Odessa Aquifer Irrigators to Move to Columbia Basin Water Project
Exciting news from Central Washington in the last several weeks, on development of the Columbia Basin Water Project. A Record of Decision was signed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the Odessa Subarea Special Study Final Environmental Impact Statement which would allow moving farmers with deep wells on the Odessa Aquifer to be able to move to the Columbia Basin Water Project for their irrigation water.
Columbia Basin Development League Executive Director Vicky Scharlau explains the importance of this progress.
Scharlau: “The League’s focus is on long-term development of the entire project. This is a small step. Getting the deep well irrigators on to irrigation for nearly 100,000 more acres is very exciting. It is the right thing to do. People have been at the table, they’ve been working as partners in this partnership to do this. It’s our government working together to benefit the producers and everybody being at the table and making sure that the policy is driven by the needs of all the stakeholders. This is a win-win.”
This process will take several years to build the needed infrastructure to move these farmers to the Water Project and off of the deep wells.
The state and irrigators plan on moving forward with the project with non-Federal funding. The state would fund construction of conveyance infrastructure, and the irrigation district would fund the distribution systems from the canal to the farm through local improvement districts, loans, or other funding mechanisms.