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Economic and dam related articles

Water Users can Tap Cost-sharing Program

by Staff
The Omak Chronicle, June 4, 2008

YAKIMA - Columbia River water users between Wells Dam and Priest Rapids Dam can participate in a cost-sharing program to install metering devices and voluntarily report their diversions from the Columbia River, according to the state Department of Ecology.

DOE officials are gathering the information as part of the Columbia River water management program's efforts to understand how much water is diverted annually from the Columbia River.

The Legislature made $1 million available on a first-come, first-served basis for grants.

Voluntary participation forms and cost-share grant applications are available through Cascadia Conservation District, Wenatchee.

Affected water users will receive informational packets on the program in the mail. They have until Oct. 31, 2008, to submit application forms, according to DOE's announcement.

In 1993, the Legislature added metering to the water code, which now requires measuring of all surface water diversions. Those who do not participate in the voluntary program still need to comply with requirements of the law, DOE officials noted.

This is the second phase of the Columbia River water measurement project. The first phase focused on irrigators withdrawing water between McNary Dam and Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River and from the mouth up to Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River.

So far, 70 percent of diverters are participating in the program, according to the announcement.

"Gathering this data will help fill key information gaps and help us better manage our water resources, now and in the future," said Rick Roeder, DOE's Columbia River team manager.

"Without this information it's tough to make new water right decisions that protect existing water rights and stream flow requirements - and meet future water needs," he said.

Water measurements help the state more accurately evaluate current water uses and forecast future water supply needs, according to DOE officials. In addition to publishing total water use information on its Web site, DOE will report the information in a long-term water supply and demand forecast due to the Legislature in 2011 and updated every five years.

Two years ago, state, federal and tribal governments agreed to end longstanding disputes about how to share the Columbia River water resource.

At that time, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law the Columbia River Basin water resource management bill, breaking decades of gridlock over water in eastern Washington, according to the announcement.

"That breakthrough occurred because of a respectful consensus built among many diverse stakeholders that depend on water from the Columbia," the DOE announcement continued.

The 2006 legislation made a commitment to developing new storage and water conservation projects on the Columbia River and provided a formula for assigning newly acquired water, according to DOE officials.

One-third of new water will be allocated to support stream flows for fish. Two-thirds will be available for new out-of stream water uses, such as farming, industry and municipal growth.

More information is available from Eiko Urmos-Berry, (509) 575-2397. Information also is available at

Water Users can Tap Cost-sharing Program
The Omak Chronicle, June 4, 2008

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