Holmquist Newbry: Move Projects Forward During Repair of Wanapum Dam
Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry believes that even in the worst situations there are opportunities to get the people's work done.
OLYMPIA, WA - Sen. Janéa Holmquist
Newbry believes that even in the worst situations there are
opportunities to get the people's work done.
On Thursday, she called for state
agencies to do just that when responding to the drawdown of the pool behind
Wanapum Dam, ordered after a crack was detected in one of the dam's pillars last
"My heart goes out to all of the
well-users and farmers upstream of the dam who have been impacted by the reduced
water supply," said Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake. "While the crack is being
repaired and the Grant County Public Utility District continues to investigate
the cause of the problem, it is important that we use this time – while the
water levels are lower by twenty-five feet or more – to get work done on
projects that can benefit from the lower levels."
"Let's find a way to take lemons
and make lemonade."
Holmquist Newbry pointed out
that there are several projects that would be considered ‘in-water projects,'
that are not currently under water due to the low water levels.
"There is an opportunity here,
while the levels is so low, to tackle some of these other issues that have been
hard to tackle in the past," Holmquist Newbry pointed out during a conference
call Monday with irrigation experts, regional PUDs, the Department of Ecology
and other agencies addressing the issue. "In the Crescent Bar community, for
example, there is a need to address milfoil and to dredge navigation channels
near Rock Island and the boat basin. Now is the time to move forward on these
projects and help ensure that when the dam is repaired and water levels between
Wanapum and Rocky Reach dams return to normal, our waterway will be
Ecology director Maia Bellon,
who also participated in Monday's call, agreed and in a news release noted
Ecology is seeking input from irrigators affected by the dam repairs.
"We recognize this is a critical
time of year when irrigators are starting to use water on their crops," said
Bellon. "We want to make sure that farmers using surface water and people with
wells that may be connected to the river have secure access to
Holmquist Newbry welcomed the
move and said more conversation is needed to alleviate local
"There are a lot of people
operating from a place of uncertainty right now," said Holmquist Newbry, who
grew up on family farms in Quincy and Colville and knows the importance of
reliable irrigation to the state's agricultural community. "The irrigation
season is just a few weeks away and there are perhaps a couple of thousand acres
that directly irrigate out of this pool; without adequate water supplies,
farmers will face tremendous difficulties preserving trees and fruit orchards.
There is also a need to have water available for frost prevention in the spring
and pesticide application."
Water users who are impacted by
the lower water levels may call Ecology's water resources customer-service
lines. In Chelan, Douglas, and Kittitas counties, residents may call
509-575-2490. Irrigators and well-users in Grant County may call