Odessa Subarea Seeks
by Matthew Weaver
MOSES LAKE, Wash. -- Lawmakers and other officials say they'll consider all funding sources to reduce the cost of bringing Columbia River water to Odessa Subarea farms.
The sentiment was expressed several times during the Columbia Basin Development League's annual meeting this week.
Farmers in the Odessa Subarea want to replace shrinking groundwater supplies with surface water from the federal Columbia Basin Project. The project now serves 671,000 acres of the 1,029,000 acres originally authorized by Congress in the 1930s.
The state Department of Ecology, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and East Columbia Basin Irrigation District are working to bring project water to 87,700 more acres. Construction of projects to expand the existing system are in varying stages of development.
The irrigation district capped the estimated annual cost to landowners at $253 per acre for 30 years. The league hopes to reduce the cost to $200 per acre.
The share that would be paid by landowners "is still really too high," said Mike Schwisow, league director of governmental relations.
Those seeking the funds have to be "innovative, persistent and turn over every rock that we can find," Schwisow said.
The federal government has contributed $58 million and the state has contributed $75 million to the expansion.
The league is seeking $20 million in federal funding.
Ecology's Office of the Columbia River will request $15 million in the state's 2017-2019 capital budget, said director Tom Tebb.
"We'll see," said state Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, during her presentation. "I'm hoping we can" provide funding.
But farmers and the league face competition for funding and legislators face budget pressures and debt limits, she warned.
Keynote speaker Gary Chandler, vice president of government affairs for the Association of Washington Business, credited local legislators with trying to find every dollar they can in tough circumstances. He told league members to keep pushing.
"If we lose the momentum for whatever reason ... I'm afraid it won't come back for a while," he said.
New Water Releases to Hydrate Odessa Aquifer Farmland by Staff, Ritzville Journal, 10/9/8
Expansion Will Not Resolve Odessa Woes by Whittlesey & Butcher, Capital Press, 12/30/10
Odessa Subarea Comment Period Extended by Matthew Weaver, Capital Press, 12/30/10
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