An excellent overview of the state of the salmon in Puget Sound

Chris Dunagan is one of the best reporters in the Pacific NW covering the Salish Sea. Here’s a great overview of the state of the salmon.

Are we making progress on salmon recovery?

In recent decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to restore habitat for Puget Sound salmon. In this article, we look at how scientists are gauging their progress. Are environmental conditions improving or getting worse? The answer may depend on where you look and who you ask. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/is/salmon-recovery

Wash. Budget Has Pros And Cons For Environmental Policies – KNKX

A brief overview of the good news on the State budget front.

Washingtonians are parsing the state budget passed last weekby a divided legislature. It adds $1.8 billion for basic education over the next two years.  A big chunk of that comes from the closure of a so-called “extractive fuel” loophole, which is one of several new policies that many environmentally progressive groups like.

Eric de Place, an energy and climate policy analyst at the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, says from his perspective, the new state budget is mostly good news.

“I think on net, the budget was a win for the environment and a win for the climate,” de Place said.

http://knkx.org/post/wash-budget-has-pros-and-cons-environmental-policies

Damage estimate soars to $57M, but insurers likely to pay in flood at West Point wastewater plant – Seattle Times

The real damage is likely to not be known for decades. That’s the effect on our fisheries and underwater world from this massive, unprecedented spill that in effect, brought Seattle to the 1920s all over again dumping untreated sewage into the Sound for months.

The new price tag for the catastrophic Feb. 9 flood that crippled the West Point Treatment Plant is up to $57 million — more than double the previous estimate. But taxpayers may be off the hook for most of it. The Wastewater Treatment Division, in a letter Friday to the Metropolitan King County Council, updated its initial estimate of $25 million in damage, stating major repairs and replacement of equipment will continue through October and cost $49 million to $57 million. Christine Willmsen reports. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/damage-estimate-soars-but-insurers-likely-to-pay-in-flood-at-west-point-wastewater-plant/

Washington state loses big legal battle over salmon culverts – AP

As if it’s not bad enough with the lack of money to deal with the public schools, now this. I think a change to a state income tax is a way forward to properly make the wealthiest of our high tech workers, etc. pay their fair share. Property taxes are a joke. You can’t get to funding of all our needs by property taxes and you end up hurting fixed income elderly the worse.

Washington state lost a major legal battle Friday that could force it to spend nearly $2 billion to restore salmon habitat by removing barriers blocking fish migration. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year affirmed a lower court’s 2013 ruling ordering the state to fix or replace hundreds of culverts — large pipes that allow streams to pass beneath roads but block migrating salmon. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/washington-state-loses-big-legal-battle-over-salmon-culverts

Muri’s bill supporting Puget Sound Partnership signed into law – Suburban Times

Good news, albeit a small thing.

The governor signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, that would help the on-going efforts of the Puget Sound Partnership…. Every two years, the Puget Sound Partnership is required to produce a State of the Sound science work plan. The plan identifies recommendations for improvements to their ongoing work in Puget Sound. Because of the short interval for updates, they are in a continuous planning mode. Muri’s bill changes the frequency of the report from every two years, to four years. By reducing the frequency of the updates, the proposal would help free up the Puget Sound Partnership’s resources. This would allow them to focus on meeting restoration performance targets. (Suburban Times)

http://thesubtimes.com/2017/04/20/muris-bill-supporting-puget-sound-partnership-signed-into-law/

EVENT: Farm Bureau to present on Hirst Decision 4/12 @7PM Chimicum Grange

Al Latham just alerted me that a fellow from the Farm Bureau will be doing a presentation on the Hirst Decision (on building permits and water rights) and current legislative activity around exempt wells at the Chimacum Grange, 7pm Wed April 12.

What is the Hirst Decision? It’s an extremely important new ruling that addresses an ongoing battle over development vs. water rights. Let me copy from the Dept of Ecology web site:

“A recent Washington State Supreme Court decision has changed how counties decide to approve or deny building permits that use wells for a water source.

In the Whatcom County vs. Hirst, Futurewise, et al. decision (often referred to as the Hirst decision), the court ruled that the county failed to comply with the Growth Management Act (GMA) requirements to protect water resources. The ruling requires the county to make an independent decision about legal water availability.

Background

We protect rivers and streams across the state by creating instream flow rules, which set the amount of water necessary for protecting fish, wildlife and recreation. In 1985, we adopted an instream flow rule for the Nooksack River (WAC 173-501) in Whatcom County. This rule closed most streams in the watershed to new water right permits but allowed landowners to use permit-exempt wells in most of the area. Whatcom County’s development regulations followed our instream flow rule.

A reliable, year-round supply of water is necessary for new homes or developments. Before the Oct. 6, 2016, court decision, many counties relied on what the Department of Ecology said about whether year-round water was available. This court decision changes that – counties now have to make their own decisions about whether there is enough water, physically and legally, to approve a building permit that would rely on a well.

Impacts

The case directly relates to Whatcom County but appears to set legal precedent that applies in other counties where there are instream flow rules that were not intended to regulate permit-exempt water uses. It is unclear how the decision affects areas of the state where there are no instream flow rules. Counties are working to review the decision and what it means for them. Contact your county’s building, planning or health departments if you have questions about how the Hirst decision may affect you.

Key points

  • Science has shown that rivers and streams are generally connected to groundwater. The Washington State Supreme Court said that water is not legally available if a new well would impact a protected river or stream, or an existing senior water right.
  • If your county determines that water is not legally available for your new use, the county would not be able to approve your building permit – even if you have already drilled a well.
  • We are providing technical assistance to counties as they determine their next steps. Our priority will be to provide information about the status of stream closures and instream flows.
  • Anyone with questions about how the decision affects them should contact their county government.

 

If Canada ups its oil shipping, should we worry?- Crosscut

Would be nice to think this bill has a chance, but appears that it doesn’t. There is always next year.

 

…. The House Finance Committee in Olympia is set to vote Thursday on a measure to require tug escorts for articulated oil barges. HB 1611 aims to address some shortcomings in the state’s oil spill prevention program. It would improve safety requirements for water transport, including mandating tug escorts for oil-transporting vessels. It also would tighten safety standards for pipelines and provide additional funding for the oil spill program administered by the Department of Ecology. Strong opposition from Republicans in the Senate means the bill faces a steep uphill climb, its sponsor, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, acknowledges. She failed to get similar legislation passed two years ago, instead passing a bill that improved safety only for oil transport by rail. Adiel Kaplan reports. (Investigate West)

http://crosscut.com/2017/03/if-canada-ups-its-oil-shipping-should-we-worry-trans-mountain-pipeline/

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