Fighting For Clean Water


    Nationwide, stormwater is the leading source of water pollution. This is also true for the Columbia River Basin. In urban areas, rain runs across dirty pavement and roofs, picking up toxic metals, oil, grease, bacteria and other contaminants along the way.

    Experts across the country agree: the cost of stormwater pollution is steep. Murky, smelly streams and rivers and fish advisories warning people not to eat otherwise healthy, locally caught fish are a stark reminder of the public costs of stormwater pollution. Yet Clark County tried to make taxpayers pay for stormwater impacts that are the responsibility of private development. Taxpayer dollars already support public stormwater infrastructure and now its time for developers to pay their share.


    Why is Clark County Trying to Evade Protections for Safe, Swimmable Rivers and Livable Communities?

    In 2010, local citizens and conservation groups successfully challenged Clark County’s sweetheart deal with Washington State regulators—a deal that made Clark County the only major county in the state to avoid critical steps to reduce stormwater pollution. Washington’s Pollution Control Hearings Board ruled that the County’s controversial development standards violated state laws to protect clean water. In 2011, a federal court judge also found that Clark County’s actions likely violate the federal Clean Water Act.

    Not only is Clark County violating the law, it is ignoring the very real economic and quality of life costs associated with stormwater pollution. For example, stormwater pollution:

    • Increases flooding—the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that stormwater causes or contributes to at least one quarter of economic losses due to flooding—or $1 billion per year.
    • Adds costs to providing safe drinking water.
    • Threatens public health.
    • Impacts fishing opportunities and water recreation.


    Many cities and counties in Washington State are working hard to clean up polluted waterways. One of the primary ways Washington State is trying to reduce stormwater pollution is by requiring new development and redevelopment to control stormwater as it leaves the property.


  • Press Release: RNA Wins Landmark Environmental Justice Case Against EPA’s Office of Civil Rights




    Chris Winter
    CRAG Law Center

    Dvija Michael Bertish
    Rosemere Neighborhood Association


    Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Criticizes EPA for a “Pattern of Delay” in Implementing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

    (September 18, 2009) Rosemere Neighborhood Association (“Rosemere”) is a non-profit community organization in Clark County, Washington, dedicated to environmental protection and the pursuit of improvements to low-income environmental justice communities.

    In February 2003, Rosemere first filed a Title VI administrative complaint with EPA’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) alleging that the City of Vancouver, WA had discriminated in the provision of municipal services in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rosemere alleged that Vancouver failed to use EPA funds to address fairly long-standing problems in low-income and minority neighborhoods in West Vancouver.

    [Read More...]

  • Rosemere Neighborhood Association Honored with Public Health Community Award

    healthawardcertificateOn April 22, 2009, Clark County’s Board of Health (also known as the Clark County Commissioners) presented community awards to various organizations and individuals that have worked toward improving public health and safety.  RNA was awarded a certificate of honorable mention as a “Community organization advocating for health promotion, disease prevention, and social justice through water quality advocacy and monitoring and improving neighborhood livability.” A total of ten community awards were given, including medical and dental caregivers, and health educators.

    Click here to view the 2008 Public Health Community Award recipients and RNA’s  Health Award Certificate in full view (pdf format). [Read More...]

  • Rosemere V. EPA, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Case – April 14, 2009

    rosemere-v-epa-31On April 14, 2009, oral arguments were made in the Rosemere Neighborhood Association’s (RNA) appeal in its federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to conduct an appropriate investigation into allegations of retaliation.  RNA filed a Title VI Environmental Justice complaint with EPA in February 2003 alleging that the City of Vancouver had discriminated in the provision of municipal services in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, the Title VI complaint alleged that the city had discriminated against Environmental Justice neighborhoods by failing to address failing septic systems, the lack of a comprehensive sewer network, contaminated ground and surface waters, poor air quality, industrial pollutants, urban blight and decay, and long-range planning that fails to alleviate these stresses. RNA contends the EPA failed in its fiduciary duties to properly investigate the Title VI complaint which has led to ongoing legal proceedings.  [Read More...]

  • Raw Sewage Discharged to Burnt Bridge Creek for Years – April 11, 2009

    ADDED 5/11/09:  This story makes headlines across the country!  High Country News reports it here: “Heard around the West: Deja Poo”



    On April 8, City inspections of a local stormdrain system that borders Rosemere found a dangerous cross connection with sewage lines. The problem was identified using specialized remote cameras in the stormdrain system.   Unfortunately, the cross connection occurs at the Southwest Regional Office of the Washington State Department of Ecology.  This means that raw sewage from a large and heavily staffed state office dedicated to environmental protection has literally been discharging to Burnt Bridge Creek for at least a dozen years.

    [Read More...]

  • State Studies Water Quality Failures on Burnt Bridge Creek – March 11, 2009


    On March 11, 2009, The Washington State Department of Ecology convened the technical advisory committee for the Total Maximum Daily Load study currently underway for Burnt Bridge Creek. This creek begins as a spring in East Vancouver, and flows 13 miles westward into Vancouver Lake. Monitoring stations have been established at various locations along the stream path. The study includes tributaries — Cold Creek, Petersen Channel and Burton Channel. Burnt Bridge Creek suffers from failures of various water quality standards, and the purpose of this study is to determine how to remedy the problems and improve water quality. [Read More...]

  • Data Gathered for Vancouver Lake Superfund Assessment – March 4, 2009

    Contractors for the EPA's Supefund Technical Assessment and Response Team gathering sediment samples 3/4/09 at a wetland location near Vancouver Lake.

    Contractors for the EPA's Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team gathering sediment samples 3/4/09 at a wetland location near Vancouver Lake.

    In August, 2007, RNA and Columbia Riverkeeper submitted a formal Citizen Petition for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a Preliminary Assessment to consider Vancouver Lake a superfund site due to contamination from substances like PCBs. The Citizen’s Petition scored sufficiently for EPA to to move to the next step, which is a site inspection study. Contractors for the EPA arrived in Vancouver to gather around 30 sediment samples that will be shpped out of state for analysis at federally contracted laboratories. [Read More...]

  • Clams and Crayfish Used to Study Waterborne Contaminants – January 6, 2009

    Asian clams collected at Frenchman's Bar, Vancouver

    Asian clams collected at Frenchman's Bar, Vancouver

    Recent water quality monitoring efforts in the Columbia River have relied upon the analysis of clam tissue to determine the levels of dangerous toxins that have been absorbed by aquatic organisms. In Vancouver, high levels of PCBs, a cancer-causing agent, have been identified in clam tissues taken from samples in front of Alcoa at the Port of Vancouver, and downstream toward the mouth of the flushing channel to Vancouver Lake. [Read More...]

  • Local View: Stormwater Pollution is a Critical Issue for Clark County – Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Flooding Chehalis, WA, on I-5 corridor.  State Stormwater regulations work to alleviate stresses of high level storm events that can cause major flooding.  These events represent only 1% of the rainfall in our state, yet do the most significant damage.

    Flooding Chehalis, WA, on I-5 corridor. State Stormwater regulations work to alleviate stresses of high level storm events that can cause major flooding. These events represent only 1% of the rainfall in our state, yet do the most significant damage.

    This editorial was published by the Columbian newspaper:

    Sunday, December 14, 2008
    By Dvija Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association and Lauren Goldberg, Toxics and Conservation Director, Columbia Riverkeeper

    The recent story regarding the City of Vancouver’s move to increase protections for our local creeks and rivers from the stormwater that carries thousands of pounds of heavy metals, pesticides, and oil from city streets should be welcome news to everyone who values clean water, salmon or the chance for your family to enjoy a swim in a local river or lake. [Read More...]

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR RE: Railroad Trestle – April 1, 2008

    Posted 12:15 AM, April 13, 2008

    Submitted to The Columbian, April 1, 2008

    Last November 2007, the Columbian published an article “Tussle Over Trestle”. Local citizen, Ed Swindell, noted that a collapsed creosote laden railroad trestle was probably polluting Burnt Bridge Creek and it should be removed. This initiated finger pointing between Clark County and BNSF Railway over whose mess this was. Neither was inclined to claim property ownership. [Read More...]

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