The Chehalis River Watershed, including the Grays Harbor Estuary, is important for five major reasons: 1) it is the largest watershed that is completely within the boundaries of Washington state; 2) it has no salmon species that are listed as threatened or endangered; 3) the main stem is free-flowing with no dams; 4) it provides Chinook salmon needed for endangered Orcas as they feed off of Grays Harbor; 5) it helps support a vibrant shellfish industry and tribal treaty fishing rights; and, 6) is an important source of food and habitat for over a million migratory birds.
This project will benefit water quality. To achieve these benefits, Twin Harbors Waterkeeper (THW) has five goals: 1) stop illegal water pollution; 2) prevent new sources of water pollution; 3) stop toxic discharges to water from historically contaminated sites; 4) advocate for habitat protection in coastal estuaries and rivers; and 5) provide outreach and education to our most overburdened communities to reduce harm.
THW will put the Chehalis River Watershed and Grays Harbor Estuary on the map to increase funding and awareness of the issues affecting marine and freshwater habitats, salmon and Orcas and water quality. It will position the SW Coast of Washington to compete more effectively for funding on par with the efforts to protect and preserve the Salish Sea. THW will strive to increase funding for critical scientific research, habitat protection, invasive species removal, and pollution permit enforcement.
THW will use the highly efficient and effective Waterkeeper model to ensure water is protected as required by the federal Clean Water Act. THW will use all of the tools including litigation to stop egregious pollution. And, THW will expand its base of support and collaborators to include public health officials and vulnerable neighbors around our watershed that experience poverty and high environmental health disparities.