Contracts Approved for First New Water Since 2005 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Contracts Approved for First New Water Since 2005

Posted: Updated: -  The  East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) Board of Directors make is possible for first new water supplies since 2005 in the Columbia Basin Project for groundwater replacement.

The board voted to issue the first five water service contracts to landowners, supplying water to 1,835 acres from the Columbia Basin Project, allowing for continued crop production and preservation of groundwater for other uses. The action is part of the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program, a public-private partnership designed to address the depletion of the Odessa Aquifer. The partners, working together since 2004, include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), East Columbia Basin Irrigation District, the Columbia Basin Development League and landowners.

The partners have successfully collaborated at the state and federal level to permit enough replacement water to serve over 87,000 acres of land. Up to this point, landowners had access only to groundwater because full development of the Columbia Basin Project had not yet reached them and in the interim years, the Department of Ecology allowed landowners to dig wells.

The Odessa Subarea Special Study, developed by Reclamation and Ecology, is in its second year of implementation by the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District who continues work with all eligible landowners and is developing plans for pump station and pipeline systems that will take water to larger blocks of eligible land beyond those in close proximity to the East Low Canal.

To fund the systems, the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District plans to issue revenue bonds secured by landowner water service contracts with long term repayment. The funding plan uses a uniform rate approach where all landowners pay the same rate regardless of proximity to the East Low Canal and the pump stations. This equal shared cost approach is used in all publically-owned water supply systems.

The work developed to implement the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program has an immediate and long-term public benefit to stabilize water supplies for our communities and our food source. This solution is an outstanding example of a public-private partnership because it has taken all parties working together--government, landowners, and groups like the Columbia Basin Development League--to achieve this success,” said League Executive Director, Vicky Scharlau.