John Hildenbrand has been made a Principal at Robinson Noble.
John joined Robinson Noble in 2003. He manages our Environmental Services Division, serves as our Health and Safety Officer, and is actively involved in several ASTM committees. John has over 24 years of environmental experience, including management of drinking water, waste water, solid waste, hazardous materials, food and community safety, and emergency and disaster response programs. While working at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, he implemented the South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District. John has also developed nationally-recognized hazardous materials training curricula and authored articles on emergency response.
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate John and wish him every success in his new position.
This past October, Mike Krautkramer posted about a State Supreme Court ruling impacting water rights in Washington State (State Supreme Court Rules on Skagit River Case). The case, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Department of Ecology, challenged Ecology’s authority to use the “Overriding Consideration of the Public Interest” (OCPI) clause to set aside water for future allocation after an instream flow has been established, in this case for the Skagit River. Mike noted at the time that this decision would likely further complicate surface-water/groundwater management and the water rights process.
If you’ve been following this decision, you may be interested in a new article posted by noted Washington water rights attorney Tom Pors, entitled: How Messed Up is Washington’s Water Allocation System After Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Ecology? How False Assumptions and Failure to Balance Water Priorities Led to a Surprise Closure of the State’s Groundwater, Over-reliance on OCPI and the Need for Legislative Reform.
Prairie Line Trail (UWT)
(Photo credit: Dave Laush)
On October 24 and 25, 2013, the University of Washington, Tacoma (UWT) held the 2013 Wellspring Conference, their second annual event highlighting stormwater management and clean water technologies. The conference covered such topics as remediation and filtration systems, the effects of pollutants on biological systems, and regulatory trends. The conference also included a guided tour of three Tacoma locations using current stormwater management techniques: the Prairie Line Trail (UWT), the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project stormwater filtration improvements, and the Point Ruston Development, where the ASARCO Smelter once stood.
Chuck Couvrette and Dave Laush of Robinson Noble attended the conference and found it very informative, illustrating the many engineering and consulting opportunities to keep our local waters clean. A number of new stormwater cleanup standards are proposed for 2015, and while it is not clear how much retrofitting of older systems will be needed, it does appear that existing systems will be included in the standards.
On October 3, 2013 the Washington State Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Department of Ecology case (No. 87672-0). This case challenged the authority of Ecology to use the “Overriding Consideration of the Public Interest” (OCPI) clause to set aside water (for future allocation) after an instream flow has been established for a given stream or river. At issue was the use of that clause to amend the Skagit Basin Instream Flow Rule (WAC 173-503) to add reservations of water to the rule in order to facilitate some rural growth within specified sub basins. The court ruled that Ecology erred in several ways in its application of OCPI and clarified that reduction of an established instream flow could only be justified in “extraordinary” circumstances. Continue reading
South Puget Sound diversion dam (Photo credit: Burt Clothier)
Back in February, we posted about the Washington State Department of Ecology’s upcoming Certified Water Rights Examiner (CWRE) program. Designed to help water rights holders streamline the process of moving a water right permit to certificate status, the program is now active. Following the initial round of examinations in late May and early June, Ecology has published a list of certified examiners here.
Robinson Noble has two CWREs on staff: Burt Clothier, LHG, in our Tacoma office and Max Wills, LHG, in our Woodinville office. Our services now support water users through all phases of the water rights process from application, source development, and mitigation analysis through permit approval and proof of appropriation certification by a CWRE.
Dave Laush LEG
Robinson Noble is pleased to announce the addition of Dave Laush as a Senior Engineering Geologist in our Tacoma office. He is a Licensed Geologist and Engineering Geologist with over 20 years of professional experience in the Pacific Northwest, including construction projects for public works, commercial, industrial, and residential developments.
His work includes a wide variety of services for large earthwork construction projects, such as quality control and assurance, observation and testing services, and laboratory testing. He has also worked on large, underground parking structures and supervised the repair of numerous unstable slopes and landslides.
In addition to expanding our geotechnical capabilities in the South Puget Sound, Dave is well versed in both hydrogeologic and environmental services. He has overseen the installation of wells, pump testing, contaminated soil and groundwater identification, excavations, and the removal of underground storage tanks. Dave worked for the Washington Department of Natural Resources in Olympia from 2010 through 2012 and spent many years as a Senior Engineering Geologist for Terra Associates in Kirkland.
Sewer and water pipes circa 1956
(Photo credit: Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)
The Washington State Legislature has been directed by the State Supreme Court to properly fund public schools, and Robinson Noble fully supports this action. The proper funding of public schools in the State is crucial to maintaining the local economy and the standard of living all Washingtonians enjoy. However, the State Senate is currently looking at funding schools by taking money from the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF). Senate Bill 5985 would permanently redirect 67% of the allocated Real Estate Excise Tax funds and 100% of the allocated Public Utility and Solid Waste Taxes funds away from the PWTF and to the Education Legacy Trust Account created in 2010. If passed, the action will become effective in July 2013 and greatly reduce funding for the PWTF.
Improving the infrastructure of Washington State is critical to our economy, including the health of our public schools. It is widely acknowledged among the engineering community that we have a huge problem in the United States with funding infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the country an overall grade of D+ on infrastructure (an individual grade for Washington State is not yet available – both Oregon and Idaho earned C- grades for 2010 and 2012, respectively). This is not the time for Washington State to be cutting funding for the PWTF. The PWTF provides grants and low-interest loans to local utilities for water, wastewater, solid-waste, bridge, and road projects. The Daily Journal of Business reports that “every dollar invested by the PWTF in basic infrastructure yields an additional $3.60 in statewide economic activity.” So, not only is the PWTF important to improving failing infrastructure, it also helps spur economic growth (which, in turn, provides needed tax dollars for schools!).
Certainly the Legislature can do better for schools than by crippling the PWTF. I encourage you to write your legislators today in support of both schools and the Public Works Trust Fund.