New ‘civil enforcement’ proposed for violations of hydraulic permits -Watching our Water Ways

There is a lot going on behind these bills. This article gets to the heart of the issue that we find all the time, people pass laws but then we get weak enforcement. Then when a law like this comes along to beef up enforcement, our legislators balk at passing it. In the meantime, shoreline landowners who are scofflaws are destroying the shoreline. In our county this happens a lot, I have been told the stories by the landowners living next door to some of these scofflaws and though they go to our County Department of Community Development nothing gets done to change behaviors.

As a member of the board of Sound Action, the NGO that has monitored and challenged HPAs for the last five years, it is worth saying that we support this bill. We believe it will lead to greater protections for the near shore and less likelihood of scofflaws getting away with destruction.

Dunagan points out an important issue that could be holding up the bill in the Senate:

Tom Davis of the Washington Farm Bureau advised legislators to be cautious when expanding the authority of Fish and Wildlife.

“The stop-work order could be especially harmful to farmers who have a very short time to do work on their land,” he said, adding that the bill might be acceptable with some changes, including limits for when stop-work orders could be issued.

Other opponents include the Washington Association of Counties, which has had a contentious relationship with Fish and Wildlife over jurisdiction. Counties have generally opposed state requirements to obtain HPAs for work on roads and bridges that may be some distance from the water. In December, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that HPAs can be required for any project that can affect the waters.

 

Here’s the lead to the story:

Concerns about the endangered Southern Resident killer whales seems to be spurring legislative support for new enforcement tools that could be used to protect shoreline habitat. Bills in both the state House and Senate would allow stop-work orders to be issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife when shoreline construction is done without permits or exceeds permit conditions. If passed, the law would require that Fish and Wildlife officials first work with contractors and property owners to achieve “voluntary compliance.” Working with property owners is the key, stressed Jeff Davis, deputy director of Fish and Wildlife in charge of habitat protection. Under current law, property owners who commit serious permit violations are charged with criminal misdemeanors. That’s neither good for the agency nor for the property owner, who may end up battling each other in court, said Davis, who once worked as a Fish and Wildlife habitat biologist in Kitsap County. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Read the whole story here. It’s a good overview.

New ‘civil enforcement’ proposed for violations of hydraulic permits

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound – KING

Like a tug coming up channel in the middle of the night, this could be seen coming a mile away. When the state, with the support of many environmental organzations, moved to ban all human waste from being dumped in Puget Sound, representatives came and presented to the Jefferson County Marine Resources committee (MRC) on what they proposed. The presenter, a very earnest younger person, discussed banning tugs from dumping waste overboard, and mentioned that they were hoping to grant a waiver extension for them to give them a few more years to revamp the tugs waste storage (which is essentially non existant as I’ve heard), I wondered whether or not they were really going to get support from the industry. It appears they haven’t.

The problem appears that most tugs were never designed with significant holding tanks, as many were built in the era when dumping overboard was the standard. Asking them to redesign what little room exists in order to build in larger holding tanks, if it’s even possible, was a big ask. I argued then, and argue now, that an exemption for existing working tugs should be found, and that new tugs should be designed for standard holding tanks.  If there are some arguements I’m not understanding in this debate, then please write and let me know. This seems like fighting over a very small issue in the larger scheme of things, and we have much larger fish to fry in saving Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

Tug boat companies are suing the EPA to stop a Washington state ruling that bans the dumping of raw sewage in Puget Sound area waterways. Now, several environmental activism groups are getting involved in the legal fight. Last year, the Washington Department of Ecology created the Northwest’s first no discharge zone (NDZ), which would span 2,300 square miles from the Canadian border to the Discovery Island Lighthouse and waters east of the New Dungeness Lighthouse. It also would include Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters to Puget Sound…. Puget Soundkeeper is now one of several groups fighting back against a lawsuit that tugboat companies have filed against the EPA, which ruled that Puget Sound has enough pump-out stations to accommodate Ecology’s decision. They have joined the EPA as intervenors, along with the Washington Environmental Council and Friends of the Earth. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound

Blueback closure latest in Quinault climate change impacts – North Coast News

And as if to put a fine point on the previous article, commercial fishing is being closed on the Quinault River for sockeye.  If I’m not mistaken, while the Quinault is not dammed, it has been greatly affected by widespread logging of the hills all around it. A look at the satellite images of the river from Google Earth https://earth.app.goo.gl/uDneeP shows that between currently logged areas and second and third growth areas the habitat for salmon has been seriously compromised over the last 100 years. The buffers along the river, likely clear cut long ago, have been allowed to grow back and gain some modicum of protection for the river, but appear to be very small, compared the vast logging operations allowed all around it. Take a look and explore the overview of the area. Likely the increased temperatures from global warming, overharvest at sea, sea water warming and the increasing upflows of cold water known as the “Blob” have all added to the problems.  Have a different opinion on what’s causing all this? Feel free to add them to the comments below. I don’t claim to know it all, just cursory looks and 40 years seeing the endless logging of the west end proceed with virtually no stopping nor real effort to protect the watersheds which are the habitat of the salmon that spawn there.

The decision to close commercial fishing for Quinault River blueback (sockeye) salmon for conservation purposes this year is part of the ongoing effort by the Quinault Indian Nation to deal with the very tangible costs of climate change. After announcing the blueback closure on the river last week for 2019, Quinault President Fawn Sharp traveled to Washington, D.C. with a message for Congress about how the entire Quinault ecosystem from the glacier to the ocean is being harmed by climate conditions that have major impacts, economically as well as environmentally. Angelo Bruscas reports. (North Coast News)

Blueback closure latest in Quinault climate change impacts

BC Led international expedition to probe ailing Pacific Salmon stocks- Vancouver Sun

Finally we are seeing some joint scientific effort around wild salmon. Time is certainly running out to take dramatic steps to save what is left of the salmon runs. Glad to see this happening now, no matter how late in the day it seems.

An unprecedented international collaboration could revolutionize salmon science and fisheries management, return forecasting and even hatchery output. Nineteen scientists from Russia, Canada, the United States, Japan and South Korea are set to probe the secret lives of five Pacific salmon species with a four-week grid search and test fishery across the Gulf of Alaska. The expedition begins next week aboard the Russian research ship MV Professor Kaganovsky. “We know virtually nothing about what happens to salmon once they leave near-shore waters in the Salish Sea,” said expedition organizer Dick Beamish. The project was developed as a research element of the 2019 International Year of the Salmon celebration, organized by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and its partners. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

BC-led international expedition to probe ailing Pacific salmon stocks

Here’s what the massive public-lands bill means for conservation, climate change in Washington state – Seattle Times

Lots of good things being funded in this Omnibus bill, co-sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell.

In my mind, the permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of the biggest wins in this legislation. Also the halting of the mining in the Methow is a very good thing.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/heres-what-the-massive-public-lands-bill-means-for-conservation-climate-change-in-washington-state/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

Skagit River Chum Numbers Continue to Decline – Skagit Valley Herald

Reports from the Department of Fish and Wildlife show a continued dramatic drop in Skagit River chum. As stated in the article, these are new lows since monitoring began on the river in the 1960s.

The debate has been raised for the last number of years as to whether the hatchery runs are worth doing. Research comparing the Skagit with Oregon’s similar river, the Rogue, which runs about the same amount of distance and has a similar ecosystem shows that the major difference in why the Rogue runs are so much higher than the Skagit’s are the implantation of hatchery fish. The Rogue has not had hatchery fish implanted in it, and the argument goes, that the fish are better adapted to changing conditions. Needless to say, that has not gone over well with hatchery supporters, including Tribes and sports fishermen. Whether the hatchery program is the problem or the solution will never be tried here because at hearings the Tribes and sports fishermen went to great lengths to denounce the idea without offering any scientific support for their position. And now, the Governor is going to go full speed ahead on funding hatcheries. Meanwhile, the fish keep vanishing. The numbers in the article show the fishery is in complete collapse. And no recreational fishing has been allowed since 2008. I guess we are going to keep doing what doesn’t work until the fish are gone. Isn’t that the definition of madness?

https://www.goskagit.com/news/local_news/skagit-river-chum-returns-continue-to-decline/article_b94adf5b-aeee-5beb-b5ef-60f9a410ab03.html

Sewage Treatment Appeal Filed in State Court to Protect Puget Sound

This has been a known problem and long running battle at the State level by environmental organizations since the early 90s. Standard excuses, too expensive to do, etc.  As stated to me by a knowledgeable friend, “Muni sewage plants and industrial facilities directly discharging to the Sound are supposed to have permits re-written every five years to “rachet down” on discharge pollutants as new technologies became available. EPA didn’t make the state do much more than some minor cosmetic remedies because municipalities said they’d have to raise rates and industries said the costs wouldn’t be worth the amount of pollution reduction of secondary.”  Who was running Department of Ecology in 1991 when that happened? The environmental champion, Christine Gregoire. And so it goes. The death from a thousand cuts.

“Olympia (WA) – An environmental group sued the Washington Department of Ecology in state court today in its bid to modernize pollution removal at Puget Sound sewage treatment plants. In January, Ecology refused to update its rules that allow dischargers to use 100-year-old pollution control technology while Puget Sound faces emergency levels of toxic and nutrient pollution.
“It’s well past time for the Department of Ecology to stop relying on 100-year old technology to protect Puget Sound,” said Nina Bell, Executive Director of Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA). “We’re not driving around in Ford Model T’s so why are we still using sewage treatment technology from that era? Modern sewage treatment would help clean up Puget Sound and protect struggling populations of Chinook salmon and orca whales,” she added.
NWEA sought a change in the 31-year old rules that Ecology uses to define modern technology by filing a petition with the agency on November 14, 2018. Ecology denied the petition on January 11, 2019. NWEA appealed the denial to Governor Inslee on January 30, 2019; he has 45 days in which to respond.
The petition explains that although Ecology has identified sewage discharges as the primary cause of some of Puget Sound’s biggest pollution problems, it has taken no action. Inadequate treatment of sewage is causing widespread algal blooms, low levels of dissolved oxygen, wholesale food web changes, ocean acidification, and toxic threats to orca whales, salmon, and crab according to Ecology’s own studies.
The petition is based on state law that requires pollution sources to use the best available treatment technology. The 74-year old Washington law, referred to as “AKART,” requires the use of “All Known, Available, and Reasonable Treatment” for pollution prior to its discharge.
NWEA’s petition details the widespread use of modern sewage treatment in the United States. For example, sewage treatment plants discharging to Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound have cut their nutrient pollution by almost 60 percent. In contrast, very few cities in the Puget Sound area have modern technology, and Ecology has only required one to do so—the LOTT treatment plant in Olympia.
Today’s lawsuit was filed in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of NWEA by Andrew Hawl y, of the Western Environmental Law Center, and Bryan Telegin, of Bricklin & Newman, LLP.”

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