Clean & Abundant Water Lobby Week

March 1st–5th, 2021. It's easier than you may think to advocate for laws that keep the Salish Sea clean and fresh water resources safe.

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Completed on March 7, 2021

The word “lobbying” carries a lot of baggage. Polluting industries and special interests have bred a lot of cynicism around what it means to lobby lawmakers, and worked to weaken laws protecting our most valuable shared resource: Water.

But really, lobbying is simply meeting with elected officials to have your voice heard. That’s why we think it’s time lobbying is put back into the hands of the people. We’re calling on our community to join us for Clean & Abundant Water Lobby Week from March 1st to 5th, where we’ll help make it easier to talk to your elected officials about four key bills that could become law this year. These laws would limit plastic pollution, end harmful seabed mining, and protect water rights as climate change strains precious waterways.

We’ll hold a training session the week before so you have the tools and confidence to lobby. We encourage anyone to join, whether it’s your first time talking to lawmakers or not! We’ll be right alongside you at every step of the way.

This week is organized by RE Sources and North Sound Baykeeper, Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP), Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team (DERT), Spokane Riverkeeper, Twin Harbors Waterkeeper, and Puget Soundkeeper.

What bills are we advocating for?
  • Preventing incredibly damaging seabed mining (SB 5145), a practice where minerals are mechanically scraped from the seafloor. This bill prohibits leases for seabed mining of hard minerals off the Washington coast. Oregon banned the practice in the early 1990s and now is our time to join.
  • Reducing Plastic Pollution and Improving Recycling (SSB 5022). Requires plastic beverage containers to contain a minimum of 15% post-consumer recycled plastic by weight by 2023, 25% by 2026, and 50% by 2031. Plastic utensils, straws, and lids are only provided on demand by food service businesses. The bill also incorporates a ban on Styrofoam packing peanuts, coolers and take-out clamshells for sale or distribution in Washington.
  • Nooksack River adjudication funding (SB 5092 / HB 1094). Water rights in the Nooksack River watershed have been in disarray for decades. Knowing exactly who has rights to how much water is a vital baseline for making choices about this shared resource, which is determined via a process called “water rights adjudication.” Funding is needed to start the initial work before an adjudication can commence. Learn more about this issue. Learn more.
  • Reusing grey water (HB 1184 / SB 5087). Directs the Department of Health to undertake rulemaking for risk-based water quality standards for treatment and reuse of non-potable alternative water sources.
What to expect: Brief training and short online meetings

We’ll hold one training at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26th going over:

  • The do’s and don’ts of lobbying
  • An overview of each of the bills, and talking points to help you support them.
  • Details and a Zoom link will be provided after you sign up.

Participants will attend at least one (or more depending on your legislative district) 15-minute lobbying meeting with a representative via Zoom. Each meeting will be staffed with at least one member from a host organization to help guide and facilitate while we advocate for these priority bills. More info on training and meetings will be sent when you sign up!

Click the tabs above for more information on each bill.

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Check out this one-pager on the importance of SB 5145.


Check out this one-pager on the importance of SSB 5022.

The Nooksack’s lowest stream flows are in the summer when both people and fish need water most. By Brett Baunton / Wild Nooksack

An adjudication is a thorough analysis of a river system to make sure everyone who’s using water from it (individuals, cities, farms, and the fish living there) is getting the water they’re legally entitled to, because we don’t really know how much water is currently being used, and by whom. The Nooksack needs an adjudication to protect Tribal treaty rights and struggling salmon amid increasingly dry summers and climate change. Learn more here what an adjudication in the Nooksack River — Whatcom County’s main waterway — might look like, and why it’s crucial for how we use water in the future.

Reusing grey water (HB 1184 / SB 5087). Directs the Department of Health to undertake rulemaking for risk-based water quality standards for treatment and reuse of non-potable alternative water sources.

  • Our state’s increasing population will increase demand for water. Finding new supplies for cities and towns will become increasingly difficult and expensive.
  • Grey water (from plumbing fixtures, rainwater, or storm runoff) can be safely treated and used again for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets or irrigation.
  • Water reuse reduces demand for potable water and means less water is taken from rivers or wells. Let’s reserve our freshest, cleanest water for drinking and washing.
  • Grey water reuse is a common-sense approach already used in other states and countries.
  • HB 1184 would direct the Department of Health to adopt rules that will serve as a framework for safe use of treated grey water.