|WASHINGTONS LEGISLATURE HAS FAILED TO STOP WATER
POLLUTION AND IMPACTS TO SALMON FROM LIVESTOCK AND OTHER AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES
the 1997 session of the Washington Legislature, a bill was introduced that would have
established a multi-dimensional voluntary, cooperative, and regulatory based system to
protect and restore riparian ecosystems on streams located on agricultural lands. The bill
was not "targeting" agriculture but recognized a need for a comprehensive system
of streamside protection from the headwaters to the mouths of our rivers. The bill was
designed to address the "gap" in the comprehensive need for streamside
protection. The "gap" was the lack of any functional approach to protect and
restore riparian ecosystems on agricultural lands. The Growth Management Act addresses
these needs on developing lands and the Forest Practice Act addressed them on state and
private forest lands. However, the lack of protection of our streams and water quality on
agricultural lands creates a significant risk to our resources, fish habitat, water
quality, and the health and safety of the public. The agriculture industrys
continual denial of the problem, and the inability of the Washington Legislature to find a
solution, leads to the need for a citizens initiative to resolve the problem.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
The Shoreline Management Act is implemented (RCW 90.58).
The legislature establishes the State Environmental Policy Act (RCW 43.21C).
The legislature exempts certain irrigation project water withdrawal decisions from
SEPA (RCW 43.21C.035(2)(C) (RCW 43.21C.035).
The legislature exempts certain agricultural activities from Washington
Clean Air Act (RCW 70.94.640).
Legislature exempts water appropriated for agricultural uses in the Columbia
from periodic renewal by the Department of Ecology or public (RCW 90.40.100).
Governor establishes the Wetlands Forum with agriculture, business,
environmental, and tribal interests to develop a model wetland ordinance.
Agricultural interests "walk away" from the Governors
Tribes, environmental groups, fishing organizations, business and agricultural
interests, and state and federal agencies establish the "Chelan Agreement" to
provide comprehensive water resource management in a holistic manner. One of the primary
issues in the implementation of the Agreement was water and land management on
Legislature exempts hydraulic project approvals for certain agricultural
projects from periodic renewal by the Department of Fish and Wildlife or public (RCW
As a result of the latest elections, business and agricultural interests
"walk away" from the Chelan Agreement.
Certain environmental groups, Native American Indian tribes, and commercial
and recreational fishing groups ask the legislature to consider the adoption of a
Streamside Protection and Salmon Habitat Act. SB 6770 and HB 2919 are introduced in the
Washington State Legislature to provide streamside protection on agricultural lands. The
bills never even receive a public hearing due to the resistance of the agricultural
Legislature exempts certain transfers of agricultural water rights from review and
approval of the Department of Ecology and the public. (RCW 90.03.380).
Again, certain environmental groups, Native American Indian tribes, and
commercial and recreational fishing groups ask the legislature to consider the adoption of
a Streamside Protection and Salmon Habitat Act. One of the primary purposes of the Act
would be to protect and restore streamside areas from the detrimental effects of certain
agricultural activities, including livestock grazing. SB 5830 and HB 1953 were introduced
in the Washington State Legislature. Again, neither bill even receiving a public hearing,
the bills died in committee due to resistance by the agricultural industry.