March 2020 Conservation

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Our conservation article this month features communications from Jerry White of the Spokane Riverkeeper organization.

Jerry recently sent an “Advocacy Alert” titled “JUST SAY NO TO DISCHARGER VARIANCES.” A variance is a time-limited exception to our state’s water quality standard for toxins. It means that while the variance is in place, industrial and municipal dischargers are exempted from meeting the lawful state standards for pollution and are instead held to whatever standard that they – the dischargers, not the law—have proposed is feasible.

The proposed variances would:

  • Allow five regional dischargers a 20-year pass to dump as much as 140 times the legal limit for pollution into your river.
  • Enable those dischargers to avoid federal pollution limits which protect your health and the health of our fish.
  • Ignore the purpose of the Clean Water Act by letting polluters propose how many toxins they would like to dump into your river.


  1. Riverkeepers will be rolling out a petition to the Department of Ecology in the next couple of weeks for you to sign.
  2. Waiting for the Department of Ecology to announce hearing dates and public meetings and showing up at these events will show Ecology that we are all listening and that we’re here to protect our river.
  3. When public comments open later this spring, be ready to write some postcards (Riverkeeper – will help you figure out some things to say.)
  4. It’s your river. Let’s protect it.
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