Tacoma News Tribune: As water-quality rules are hatched, tribes sit out

Jordon Schraeder writes about the decision by treaty tribes to sit out the current round of discussion on setting a new fish consumption rate:

Discouraged by lack of progress, and asserting their rights as sovereign nations, tribes are trying to bypass the state’s process.

“We want action, not further discussion,” Andy Whitener of the Squaxin Island Tribe wrote to Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant in a letter turning down an invitation to join a group providing advice.

Nisqually tribal member Billy Frank, the chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission who supported Democrat Jay Inslee in his successful campaign for governor, wrote a blog post Monday calling on Inslee to “reset” the process after taking office next month.

Tribes say current state water-quality rules that call for making sure people are safe eating 6.5 grams of fish a day are woefully inadequate. The people who run industrial plants and municipal water-treatment facilities don’t disagree – but they do worry the rules that result might be so onerous they will have to spend huge amounts of money on upgrades that still don’t meet the standards.