The Olympian: Tribe asks Gregoire to order Ecology to halt well drilling

The Olympian has a story this morning on the Squaxin Island Tribe’s effort to protect salmon in Johns Creek:

A water use dispute in Mason County is headed for the desk of Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The Squaxin Island Tribe has asked the governor to order the state Department of Ecology to halt new well-drilling activity in the Johns Creek watershed near Shelton because withdrawals are reducing stream flows vital to salmon.

Ecology officials announced Monday that they had rejected the tribe’s request for the second time in the past two years, saying they lacked sufficient data to verify the impacts of continued well drilling in the 10,500-acre watershed northeast of Shelton.

Ecology also said it lacked the resources and funding to conduct the necessary hydrology study, but said it was applying to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a grant to do the work.

That drew a sharp response from tribal officials, who said the creek doesn’t meet the minimum flow requirements to support a small and fragile population of summer chum salmon that calls the creek home.

Here is the tribe’s original petition from December.

Here is Ecology’s press release on their eventual refusal to act and here is the department’s letter to the tribe spelling out their response.