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WATERLINE - March, 2011

Lakes advocates have plenty to do in Olympia this year!

There are a number of bills that relate to lake health working their way through the state legislative process this year in Olympia. WALPA, along with others who promote healthy lakes, is tracking and working on four major bills.

Phosphorus (SB 5194/HB 1489):

This bill, which WALPA originally proposed last year, has changed slightly, and is now at a critical point for passage into law. It is now a Washington State Environmental Priorities Coalition bill, which means that it’s one of the Coalition’s top four priorities in Olympia, and that a lot of people have worked with WALPA to get it passed. There are a few changes from last year’s version as well as changes to the original bill from earlier this session:

Phosphate free fertilizer1) The bill now restricts the sale of phosphorus lawn fertilizer; it is a no longer a restriction on use.

2) If passed, the bill will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture.

3) The bill now specifies more clearly which products are exempted from its restrictions and which are not.

4) The bill contains better messaging about how retailers are to display fertilizer products.

In late-breaking news, the bill passed out of the House of Representatives
on February 28, and now awaits action in the Senate. Please contact your Senators TODAY and ask them to support this bill!

Freshwater algae (SB 5036/ HB 1395):

This bill removes the expiration date on the funding source that has traditionally paid for the Department of Ecology’s freshwater algae program. The bill has passed out of the Senate committee with a provision allowing for saltwater algae (sea lettuce) to be included in the program. The House Bill was passed out of committee on February 4, sent to the Rules Committee for a second reading, and passed the House without the provision for saltwater algae.

Lake advocates are conflicted about the substitute bill in the Senate. The bill’s original intent was to protect freshwater, and lakes receive very little state funding, so it was a bit of a shock to have saltwater algae attached to this bill. However, WALPA recognizes that the budget is tight and any funding we can secure is good funding. In addition, the substitute bill still lists freshwater algae as a priority. Nonetheless, if saltwater algae is attached to this funding source at final passage, there will likely be greater competition for the funds, which may no longer benefit Washington’s lakes exclusively. This is a bitter pill to swallow; WALPA will not oppose the substitute, but we encourage you to ask your legislators to adopt the bill without the amendment including saltwater algae.

Andy Billig and Scott White

Noxious weeds (SB 5087/ HB 1169)

WALPA opposes this bill. In brief, the bill states that plants grown commercially cannot be considered for the noxious weed list (weeds now on the list will remain). This is very dangerous, since many aquatic invasive weeds are grown for aquariums/water gardens, and if they get loose into the environment (like water chestnut), they cannot be listed. This poses a great threat to all our lakes and rivers. Ask your legislators to oppose this bill.

Invasive species council (SB 5090/ HB 1413)

This bill extends the life of the invasive species council, which directs policy on the management and control of invasive animals and plants. The council has been a great resource for Washington State and we’d like to see it continue. WALPA definitely supports this bill; please let your legislators know.

WALPA encourages all members to get involved in the legislative process. We have chosen to work on these bills because of their importance to water quality and lake health. We encourage each and every member to write his or her legislators and share opinions regarding these bills. Find contact information for your elected officials at www.leg.wa.gov.



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