Celebrating 100 Years of Water for Our People, Salmon and Future

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The usually vacant lot across from Boom City was anything but as hundreds of community members, tribal employees, and partners in interest gathered to celebrate the completion of the Tulalip Water Pipeline Project, affectionately called ‘Big Water’, on Friday, April 28.

The historical moment was treated as such with a traditional welcoming ceremony provided by the Tulalip Salmon Ceremony singers and drummers led by Glen Gobin. There was an open invite for all tribal members to join in with their drums and singing voices to perform a song passed down by Harriet Sheldon Dover, as well as a personal song belonging to Glen. Following the songs, Natosha Gobin gave a traditional prayer in both Lushootseed and English to bless the special occasion.

“Our ancestors knew that our survival as a people depended on the natural resources of our land and waters,” explained Tulalip Chairwoman Marie Zackuse. “In negotiating the Point Elliot Treaty, they ensured access to salmon were among the rights we reserved. We call ourselves the People of the Salmon. By preserving this precious resource we are defending our lifeways, our culture, and our identity.

Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Marie Zackuse (center, raised hands) along with other board members, tribal members, and youth council members drink water from the golden spigot in celebration.

“The completion of this water pipeline is an historic event. We have secured water for our people and our future generations for the next hundred years. It took years of planning and years more to build the pipeline, which now carries water from Spada Lake to Tulalip. It will enhance our salmon recovery efforts, habitat restoration, and will provide a source of fresh water for our people now and into the future.”

Big Water has been heralded as the righting of a wrong committed against the Tribes long ago by the City of Everett, specifically when Everett built a diversion dam and tunnel to move water from the Sultan River to Lake Chaplain in 1916. The way the diversion was managed, there were times of the year that the Upper Sultan River was completely dry. Although the Lower Sultan River received enough water from other tributaries to allow salmon to spawn, miles of Upper Sultan River were no longer accessible to spawning fish resulting in massive population losses.

After years of court battles and lawsuits regarding the diversion dam and loss of waterways and salmon spawning habitat, the Tulalip Tribes and City of Everett began mending the long history of opposition and obstruction in 2003. The two governments have since moved towards a new era of consultation and compromise.

“What this was about more than anything was trust [between the City of Everett and Tulalip Tribes],” said Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson while recalling his father teaching him about the many injustices that happened to Native American people. “I never thought in my lifetime that I would have the opportunity to right a wrong, and this agreement really helped right a wrong.”

In 2016, the Snohomish County PUD created a fish passage around the old City of Everett diversion dam that made possible for 5-miles of spawning habitat to once again be available to salmon. Already fisheries staff have seen Coho and Steelhead in the area and are anticipating Chinook will return in the upcoming season. On Reservation, the Tulalip pipeline will supply approximately thirty-million gallons of water per day for the next one-hundred years.

Pictured (l) to (r): Staff members of the original Joint Water Pipeline team: Deborah Parker, former Project Lead and Policy Analyst for the Tulalip Tribes; Pat McClain, former Executive Director for Governmental Affairs for the city of Everett; Terry Williams, Treaty Rights Commission Officer for the Tulalip Tribes; and Jim Miller, Engineering Superintendent for the city of Everett.

“Today’s celebration meant a completion of an agreement between the City of Everett and the Tulalip Tribes. It means potable water will be flowing to our homes to serve the needs of our families for the next 100 years and our streams will be augmented for our salmon and natural habitat,” stated Deborah Parker, Tulalip Tribal member and former Joint Water Pipeline Lead. “Our partnership reflects when two governments come together to work towards a solution. Many hours were spent meeting, negotiating, lobbying, and formalizing plans until final construction. The Joint Water Pipeline staff and leadership deserve a great deal of appreciation. It was truly an honor to be a part of this process and to witness the flow of water through the water line. Water is indeed an important part of our everyday life.”

Everett Mayor Ray Stephenson with former Chairmen Stan Jones and Herman Williams, Jr.

Highlighting the Big Water celebration was the ceremonial opening of the taps. The Board of Directors were joined by former Chairmen Stan Jones and Herman Williams, Jr. and Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson as they each turned a golden spigot to free a new source of life-giving water. Tribal Design provided hand carved ladles in the shape of a canoe for leadership to drink out of.

Concluding the celebration was a salmon bake feast cooked by Cy Fryberg and his family. Many attendees could be seen filling their gifted water bottles with water from the honorary golden pipes.

While Big Water is the culmination of many mission statements and priorities of the Tulalip Tribes, there are also plenty of ties to the ‘water is life’ slogan that has become omnipresent in Native communities across the country. Those sentiments were not lost on the diverse group of attendees, and in fact, it was a member of Tulalip’s younger generation who really summed it up best.

“Water is humanity’s basic need. Water affects everything from education to health to our future generations. They are the ones who will continue our legacy and our culture. The installment of the water pipeline will be innovating in our future by taking pressure off the water table. This will assist in the care of our ever-growing tribal community,” proclaimed Keely Gobin, vice-chairwoman of Tulalip’s Youth Council. “Prior to European settlers in the 1800s, the salmon returned to our area annually in huge numbers. Salmon and green life were the number one food source for our community. Settlement and the increasing population in the United States led to the development of dams and factories, which destroyed our local ecosystems, including our natural salmon runs and habitat. As sovereign people we must stand strong in the preservation of our Mother Earth, for she along with my great-great-grandchildren our counting on us to keep our waters pure. t’igwicid.”





Northwest Drought Likely To Extend Into 2016

A lack of water has left apple trees in Benton County dry and brittle as severe drought conditions persist across 68 percent of Washington State.Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology
A lack of water has left apple trees in Benton County dry and brittle as severe drought conditions persist across 68 percent of Washington State.
Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology


by Cassandra Profita, OPB/EarthFix


Don’t be fooled by the recent rain and cooler temperatures. Most of Oregon and Washington are still experiencing severe or extreme drought.

With many of the region’s reservoirs and streams still far below normal and a warm winter on tap, experts are predicting this year’s drought will likely continue into next year.

On a conference call Thursday, Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon said her agency is preparing for the worst: another year of drought that will take hold earlier and take an even bigger toll on the state.

“This historic drought is not over, and we’re already planning for next year,” Bellon said. “We face winter with a huge water deficit. Rains are desperately needed to recharge these reservoirs and even that won’t be enough to get us through next summer. We need winter snowpack – what we call our frozen reservoir – and there’s growing concern we may not get it.”


Projections for this year's winter temperature and precipitation relative to normal conditions from 1981-2010.Projections for this year’s winter temperature and precipitation relative to normal conditions from 1981-2010.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said there’s a 10- to 15-percent chance this winter will be just as warm and devoid of snow as last winter.

“There’s been recently some rain and cooler temperatures, but are we out of the woods?” he said. “The answer, I’m afraid, is no. El Nino is rearing its ugly head in the tropical Pacific. It’s of the magnitude and type that is strongly associated with warmer than normal winters around here, and warmer ocean temperatures off our coat, the blob, will be a contributing factor. All in all, the odds are strongly tilted towards another toasty winter.”

Oregon’s outlook is much the same, according to Kathie Dello, associate director of the Oregon Climate Research Institute.

“Nothing is pointing to us having a great winter,” she said. “The warmer-than-normal temperature prediction is the most disconcerting.”

With so many low reservoirs and rivers, Dello said, even slightly below-average precipitation this winter would leave the region with a water deficit going into next year.

Puget Sound cities activate drought plans as river levels drop



Source: KOMO News


SEATTLE – Several Puget Sound cities are one step closer to water restrictions as the region’s record-setting hot, dry summer continues.

Seattle, Everett and Tacoma are all activating the first phase of their drought and water shortage plans, starting Tuesday. Those cities supply about two-thirds of all of the water used by Puget Sound residents and businesses – about 180 million gallons a day in the summer.

The conservation measures aren’t as drastic as in California, where people in some municipalities can’t water their lawns or wash their cars.

But city officials agree it is now imperative to begin with some voluntary steps, with local rivers running at historically low levels – killing off the oxygen fish need to survive.

Each city’s plan is a little bit different – but the basics are the same in each case. Residents are being asked to:

• Water plants early or late in the day – before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m. – to prevent evaporation.

• Water longer but less frequently – a good soaking lasts longer.

• Fix leaks on faucets and toilets to stop wasting water.

• Use a broom instead of a hose to clean off driveways or patios.

Right now, all of these ideas are voluntary, but it’s clear that will change if conditions get worse – as we head into another round of hot weather this week.

One More Try: A Renewed Push To Pass Klamath Agreements

PacifiCorp's Copco 1 dam on the lower Klamath River is one of four hydro dams that would be removed to facilitate fish passage under the pending Klamath water deal.Amelia Templeton
PacifiCorp’s Copco 1 dam on the lower Klamath River is one of four hydro dams that would be removed to facilitate fish passage under the pending Klamath water deal.
Amelia Templeton


By: Jefferson Public Radio; Source: OPB


Supporters of a trio of agreements meant to settle the rancorous water disputes in the Klamath Basin are gearing up to take another run at getting Congressional approval for the deal. A Klamath bill by Oregon’s Democratic senators was not included in a massive funding measure passed in the frantic final hours of the last Congress.

Now – amid signs that support for the agreements is growing, the spotlight is turning toward the region’s Republican congressman.

The failure of the Senate bill that would have implemented the Klamath water agreements left a big question mark: what would happen now?

Among stakeholders in the region, the answer was largely that, somehow or another, the deal would move forward.

“Of course we’re going forward,” said Glen Spain with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a commercial fishing group.

“There is no alternative on the table other than going back to the kind of chaos we saw a decade ago,” he said.

Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath have waged a long and bitter battle with fishermen and Indian tribes over the region’s scarce water, with periodic irrigation water shut-offs and fish die-offs raising the stakes.

Over the course of years, the three water agreements were hammered out as the various stakeholders eventually negotiated compromises most felt they could live with. One federal official said what finally brought everyone to the table was the realization that “part of something is better than all of nothing.”
Now – with three interlocking agreements awaiting Congressional approval – stakeholders say it’s crucial to wrap it up.

“This is how we’re going to have stability in resource management in the Klamath Basin as we move forward,” said Greg Addington, who heads the Klamath Water Users Association. It represents farmers and ranchers on the federal Klamath Irrigation Project. Addington says, at this point, making major changes in the deal isn’t feasible.

“As you look at the complexity of these issues and the work that went into crafting these agreements over the last eight or nine years – we’ve been at this for a while – it just makes you more confident that you’ve really crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s and looked at all the potential solutions,” he said.

In recent months, a growing number of previously-skeptical groups have come to back the water deal, including the Klamath Falls City Council, the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce and the Klamath Cattlemen’s Association.

One key player who hasn’t yet signed on is Republican congressman Greg Walden. The Klamath is in Walden’s district and so far he’s had reservations about the agreements, in particular the part that would remove the four hydropower dams on the Klamath River. The dams have blocked fish passage for more than fifty years.

As more Klamath agriculture groups have swung their support to the deal, they’ve urged Walden to get behind it. But if Walden hopes to substantially change the dam removal part of the deal, Don Gentry, who chairs the Klamath Tribal Council, would beg to differ.

“It’s pretty clear that the parties are all on board that that’s a part of the package and without that dam removal component, the agreements will unravel,” he said.

Gentry says removing the dams is crucial to restoring the endangered fish populations the tribes have a treaty right to.

Just as the new session of the US Senate convened this month, Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley re-introduced their Klamath water bill that died last session. Merkley says with the probability of another dry summer approaching, time is running out.

“This has to happen in legislation, to lock in the components as a group,” he said. “And so we could have a major water war or water catastrophe, however you want to put it, for the ranching-farming community if we don’t get this done.”

While there are still parties opposing the agreements – the Klamath County   Commission and the Hoopa Indian tribe among them — the success of this effort would seem to hinge on Greg Walden’s support. Walden’s office declined to comment except to say he’s been meeting with stakeholders and “shares a common goal of finding a viable path forward.”

Record amount of water put in trust for fish

Water purveyor for King County cities donates water rights for White River


Joint News Release: Department of Ecology, Cascade Water Alliance, Muckleshooot Indian Tribe


LAKE TAPPS – It’s the largest trust water donation in Washington state history. Enough water to fill a football field 130 miles deep will stay in the White River for perpetuity.

The Washington Department of Ecology has signed an agreement with a consortium of five cities and two water and sewer districts in King County for permanent and temporary trust water donations that will protect flows for fish in the river through 2034 and beyond.

“Big things happen when the state, local governments and tribes come together to form strategic partnerships,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “This historic donation protects water levels for fish, guarantees water supplies for people, and preserves Lake Tapps as a vital community asset for decades to come.”

On Jan. 17, 2015, Cascade Water Alliance will make its permanent donation of 684,571 acre feet of water to the state’s Trust Water Rights Program. The donation will preserve instream flows and protect fish habitat in a stretch of the White River that flows through the Muckleshoot Tribal Reservation. Cascade is the water purveyor for eight King County cities and two water and sewer districts.

This month’s transaction completes the agreement Cascade made with Ecology in 2010 to donate a portion of the water rights it acquired in the purchase of Lake Tapps in Pierce County to the trust water program. In addition, Cascade will donate another 154,751 acre feet of water to the Temporary Trust water rights program until 2034.

The trust water donation keeps water in the river for the benefit of fish, wildlife, recreation and the natural environment. Ecology has agreed not to approve or issue new water right permits for 20.7 miles of the White River in what is known as the Reservation Reach between Buckley and Sumner. Several salmon species use this stretch of the river for migration, spawning, rearing and flood refuge.

“For more than 90 years diversions from the White River at Buckley have largely de-watered the stretch of river that flows through our Reservation,” said Muckleshoot Tribal Council Chair Virginia Cross. “The water donations restore and will permanently preserve river flows through the Reservation that allow recovery of healthy fish runs. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Cascade Water Alliance to achieve this historic goal.”

The trust water donation is the culmination of a water rights package that has converted Lake Tapps in Pierce County into a future municipal water supply for 50 years or longer for Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Issaquah, Tukwila and the water and sewer districts serving the Sammamish Plateau and Skyway.

Ecology approved the transfer of water rights from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to Cascade and issued new municipal water rights to Cascade in 2010. PSE sold Lake Tapps to Cascade in 2009 after PSE no longer needed the lake as a reservoir for hydroelectric power operations.

In its purchase of Lake Tapps as a future drinking water supply for nearly 400,000 residents and 22,000 businesses in eastern King County, Cascade agreed to preserve the lake for the benefit of surrounding homeowners, boaters, swimmers and anglers.

“We are honored to make this donation a reality,” said Cascade Board Chair John Marchione, mayor of Redmond. “It’s the culmination of our regional collaboration with our partners around Lake Tapps – the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Lake Tapps homeowners and the four cities surrounding the lake – Auburn, Bonney Lake, Buckley and Sumner. Our work together helped make possible municipal water for the future, instream flows and a summer recreational lake.”

Court Case Is The Latest Battle In Water Wars Of The Skagit River

Richard Fox and his wife, Marnie, want to build a house and garage on their property near the Skagit River. The state says they can't have access to the water necessary to approve their building permit.ASHLEY AHEARN
Richard Fox and his wife, Marnie, want to build a house and garage on their property near the Skagit River. The state says they can’t have access to the water necessary to approve their building permit.


By Ashley Ahearn, Earthfix

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. — The house was going to be modest, 1,300 square feet with a big porch looking out over acres of fields. Next to it would be a garage with a caretaker’s apartment over it.

“I’m kind of an old guy already,” Richard Fox said, standing in the pouring rain on his property and gesturing to the spot where he and his wife’s dream retirement home was to be built. A handful of drenched cows looked on, vaguely curious.

Richard and Marnie Fox already have the plans in place. The well is drilled. The septic is in.

But Skagit County won’t issue them a building permit. By doing so, the county says, it would be violating a rule established in 2001 that says there has to be a certain amount of water left in the Skagit River to protect fish. And drilling more domestic wells like the Foxes’ will deplete the flow of the river.

The case will be heard Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court. The Washington Department of Ecology and the Swinomish Tribe are intervening in the case.

This is just the latest skirmish in an ongoing war over the future of water use in the Skagit River watershed. The Foxes are one of more than 450 homeowners who have been denied access to well water because of what is called the Instream Flow Rule. The rule established a water right for fish that trumps property owners who want to tap into groundwater reserves after the rule went into effect in 2001.

The rule has meant precipitous drops of up to 80 percent in property values for those 450-plus homeowners because the state has effectively invalidated their water rights.

For those landowners and other would-be developers in the area it’s a tough pill to swallow; especially when it’s pouring rain and there are flood warnings in place for the Skagit River.

For Richard Fox, it doesn’t help that his property has turned into a mini-lake. But that is not always the case. During the late summer months conditions here and elsewhere in the Skagit basin are dry. That’s when groundwater is a critical source of water for the Skagit and its tributaries. If more property owners, like the Foxes, are allowed to suck groundwater out via their wells, that will take water away from fish when they need it most, Ecology and the Swinomish Tribe assert.

During the drier parts of the year, groundwater can make up between 40 and 90 percent of the water in Skagit River tributaries (of which there are more than 2,000), according to research done by the Department of Ecology in preparation for the 2001 Instream Flow Rule. Other research from the U.S. Geological Survey supports those findings.

“This is the critical timing problem that we face,” said John Rose, a hydrogeologist with the Washington Department of Ecology. “We have these periods where the primary amount of inflow into our rivers is groundwater. It happens when we’re having the biggest drawdown due to human use and then right immediately afterwards, when we’re at the lowest levels, is when you have the fish runs.”

It may seem like an intractable problem, but Ecology has been exploring ways to offset the water usage of new development by installing rainwater catchment systems and trucking in water. Ecology is also speaking with hydropower operators on the river – Puget Sound Energy and Seattle City Light – to see about getting them to release more water from above the dams during those late summer months to accommodate the higher demand.

However, the dam operators have their own set of problems, as they face a future with less glacial runoff to supplement their reservoirs.

Rainwater catchment systems present an added cost for property owners, as do water truck deliveries.

“It’s just not necessary,” said Zachary Barbornias of Just Water Alliance. “Who’s going to pay for that?” Just Water Alliance has joined with Washington Realtors, the Building Industry Association of Washington, the Washington State Farm Bureau and others to petition the state to repeal the instream flow rule, arguing that Ecology’s proposed mitigation attempts are costly and “provide little or no actual benefit to instream resources.”

Zachary Barborinas is the head of the Just Water Alliance, which opposes the instream flow rule because it limits development. Credit: Ashley Ahearn.

“We support all of the habitat restoration that goes on and millions that are spent. We, as taxpayers, pay for that,” Barborinas said, “but Ecology at the same time should be setting aside water for people. That’s the bottom line.”

In 2006 Ecology brokered a deal with Skagit County that would have satisfied Barborinas and other landowners by changing water allocations in order to allow for development in the Skagit basin. The Swinomish Tribe sued Ecology, saying it had no right to change the rule to allow for any more wells. That battle went all the way to the State Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Swinomish in October of last year.

The Fox case represents the next round in the ongoing legal battle between development interests and environmental interests in the Skagit watershed, and it is wearying for everyone.

“Washington State Supreme Court has ruled on this issue already,” said Larry Wasserman, referring to the 2013 State Supreme Court decision. Wasserman is the environmental policy director for the Swinomish Tribe, which is intervening in the Foxes’ case on Tuesday. He’s worked on this issue on behalf of the tribe for more than 20 years. “This is settled law and the science behind that rule and that law has been well established, well vetted and supported fully by the Washington Department of Ecology.”

The Swinomish and other tribes argue that the river has been depleted, bit by bit, as each new home or development has gone in over the years and no further groundwater depletion should be allowed.

“At some point you reach a point where any additional impact is too much,” Wasserman said. “And if we say, ‘Well just these 400 or 500 landowners’ [which would include the Foxes], what happens to the next landowner that comes along and makes the same argument, and the next one after that? The issue is we have an inadequate amount of water right now.”

The Swinomish Tribe and Ecology have both indicated that they will appeal if the court rules in favor of granting the Foxes a building permit on Tuesday. And so the fight will go on, with countless more dollars spent on legal fees by the state, the tribes and building interests.

“This is kind of ground zero for the state right now for water issues,” Barborinas said. State legislators have been meeting with interested parties in the Skagit to brainstorm possible legislative solutions to the water fight.

Klamath Basin Agreements Move Toward Senate Floor

The J.C. Boyle Dam, one of four that the Interior Department has recommended for removal from the Klamath River. It runs through Southern Oregon and Northern California. | credit: Amelia Templeton
The J.C. Boyle Dam, one of four that the Interior Department has recommended for removal from the Klamath River. It runs through Southern Oregon and Northern California. | credit: Amelia Templeton

By: Jes Burns, Earthfix

A long-negotiated series of agreements to manage water in the Klamath Basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California received Senate committee passage Thursday.

“This legislation is the result of a historic collaboration of efforts,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden during the committee meeting.

Wyden was one of the four Oregon and California co-sponsors the Senate bill. It gives federal authorization for local efforts to ensure enough water for fish and wildlife, while providing predictable irrigation supplies for farmers and ranchers.

The Klamath agreements were signed by local stakeholders in 2010. They establish a hierarchy of water rights and present the possibility of removing dams owned by PacifiCorp. Congressional approval is needed to enact certain provisions.

The legislation gained broad bi-partisan approval in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski supported the bill after the committee approved an amendment decreasing the role of the federal government in making dam-removal decisions.

“What we do… is ensure that the states of California and Oregon are empowered to decide,” Murkowski said.

Now the legislation faces the possibility of a full Senate vote in the coming weeks.

Lummi Nation closes shellfish harvesting in part of Portage Bay because of pollution

Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds closed in 1997 due to poor water quality. Fecal coliform contamination has again led Lummi Nation to close 335 acres of shellfish beds in September 2014.THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds closed in 1997 due to poor water quality. Fecal coliform contamination has again led Lummi Nation to close 335 acres of shellfish beds in September 2014.


By: Bellingham Herald

LUMMI RESERVATION — Lummi Nation has closed 335 acres in Portage Bay to shellfish harvesting because of worsening water quality caused by fecal coliform bacteria.

The tribe consulted with the state Department of Health and volunteered to do so Sept. 3 after levels exceeded federal standards for commercial shellfish harvest.

Portage Bay is home to Lummi Nation’s ceremonial, subsistence and commercial shellfish beds.

Fecal coliform bacteria come from human and animal feces. The bacteria enter Whatcom County’s waterways in several ways — horse and cow manure, pet and wildlife waste, and failing septic systems — and indicate there could be pathogens absorbed by the shellfish that may sicken people who eat them.

The closure affects about 200 families on Lummi Reservation who make a living harvesting shellfish and as many as 5,000 tribal members who rely on Portage Bay shellfish for ceremonial and subsistence needs, according to the tribe.

This isn’t the first time the tribe has closed its shellfish beds in Portage Bay because of fecal coliform pollution. They did so in 1996 because of high levels of fecal coliform in the Nooksack River and streams that empty into Portage Bay.

At that time, the state Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency led a cleanup plan using state legislation approved in 1998 that required dairy farms to undergo routine inspections and create written plans for how they would contain manure and prevent it from washing into public waterways. Before 1998, dairy farms were inspected only if a complaint was made about a farmer.

Failing septic systems and municipal sewage systems also were addressed.

The effort cleaned up the Nooksack River and its tributaries and allowed 625 acres of tribal shellfish beds to reopen in 2003, and the last 115 acres to reopen three years later.

That decade cost the tribal community about $8.5 million in revenue, Lummi Nation said in a news release.

But in recent years, the Lummis have expressed concern about water quality once again degrading because cuts to budgets and enforcement created regulatory gaps.

“Everybody knows the reason that this is happening is there’s a lack of compliance and a lack of enforcement,” said Merle Jefferson, director of Lummi Natural Resources Department.

Lummi Tribal Chairman Timothy Ballew II echoed those concerns.

“Failure of our upstream partners to follow the policies developed to respond to the last closure has led to this disaster,” Ballew said in a news release. “Immediate actions are needed to right the problem. We are committed to doing the work required that will reopen the shellfish beds.”

Multiple agencies at the federal, state, local and tribal level are once again coordinating their efforts to lower fecal coliform in Whatcom County’s waterways, with county officials saying that the levels in the Nooksack River and Portage Bay have increased in the past five years.

That push includes a proposal for the County Council to create a locally driven, and ongoing, effort called the Whatcom County Pollution Identification and Correction Program. It goes before the County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

“We feel like we’re making progress,” said Doug Allen, manager of Ecology’s Bellingham field office. “I’m still confident that we’re going to turn this around. It’s going to take all of us working really hard to do it.”

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/09/26/3879712_lummi-nation-closes-shellfish.html?sp=/99/100/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

Are Fido’s Meds Polluting The Water?

Americans will spend nearly $60 billion on their pets this year and a lot of that money goes for vet care. Some of those pet meds are contaminating our waters. | credit: Flickr/Claire
Americans will spend nearly $60 billion on their pets this year and a lot of that money goes for vet care. Some of those pet meds are contaminating our waters. | credit: Flickr/Claire


Olivia Poblacion, OPB


Animal lovers are spending more on their pets than ever, and a lot of that money is going into vet care.

But medications the vet prescribes for Fido’s health may be contaminating our watersheds.

Just like pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) for humans, soaps and medicines for pets contain compounds that can harm aquatic ecosystems.

“There is a cocktail of chemicals being detected in our watersheds,” said Sam Chan, a watershed health specialist with the Oregon Sea Grant.

Even though the concentrations are low, PPCPs in watersheds have still been shown to impact the development and behavior of fish and can make them more susceptible to predation.

The National Sea Grant program recently partnered with the American Veterinary Medicine Association to promote the reduction of improper PPCP disposal. As part of this project, Chan and other researchers at OSU are launching a national survey to learn more about the practices and awareness of this issue among pet owners and veterinary professionals.

“The main way people dispose of these products is by throwing them in the garbage,” Chan said. “It seems like a reasonable solution, but when they go to the landfill, rain seeps through and then the water is contaminated with those compounds.”

So what’s the best way to get rid of unused PPCP’s for pets? Definitely don’t flush them. Chan recommends either taking them to a drug take-back event or mixing them with something unpalatable to pets (such as coffee grounds) and then putting them in a sealed container and depositing in the trash.

Agency Reconsidering Water For Klamath Salmon

The federal agency that oversees water in Northern California's Klamath Basin is taking another look at releasing some to prevent the spread of disease among salmon. | credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The federal agency that oversees water in Northern California’s Klamath Basin is taking another look at releasing some to prevent the spread of disease among salmon. | credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


By: Associated Press


The federal agency that oversees water in Northern California’s Klamath Basin is taking another look at releasing some to prevent the spread of disease among salmon returning to spawn in drought conditions.

A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman said Friday a decision is likely next week.

The bureau had earlier denied a request from the Hoopa Valley Tribe to release some water from Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River to prevent the spread of a parasite that attacks salmon in stagnant waters, though it would release some once significant numbers of fish started dying.

Tribal scientists said by then it would be too late.

The tribe took their case to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell when she was in Redding, California, this week, and she agreed to review the situation.