Holmquist Newbry: Move Projects Forward During Repair of Wanapum - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Holmquist Newbry: Move Projects Forward During Repair of Wanapum Dam

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Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry believes that even in the worst situations there are opportunities to get the people's work done. 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 month.
 
"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 clear."
 
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 it."
 
Holmquist Newbry welcomed the move and said more conversation is needed to alleviate local concerns.
 
"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 509-329-3400.
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