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$1.9 million in federal funding earmarked for Columbia Basin Project

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation funding program includes $2 million for work on the Columbia Basin Project, including $750,000 for Odessa groundwater replacement.
Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Published on May 15, 2018 9:58AM

Nearly $2 million in federal funding has been designated for work on the Columbia Basin Project.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal project has secured $1.9 million in the 2018 fiscal year, with $750,000 for the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program, $650,000 for the Potholes Supplemental Feed Route and $590,000 for the Pasco Pump Lateral.

The federal funding will help streamline cooperation between the bureau and East Columbia Basin Irrigation District, which is constructing the facilities, said Erika Lopez, Reclamation public affairs specialist.

The project will replace groundwater from the declining aquifer with water from the Columbia River.

That includes $750,000 to oversee and design a pumping plant and pipeline delivery system in the Odessa area.

“This is the first time in quite a while we’ve had federal funding going towards the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program,” said Mike Schwisow, director of government relations of the Columbia Basin Development League.

Much of the design work and construction management on the East Low Canal was done by the bureau and funded through a Washington State Department of Ecology Office of the Columbia River grant to the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District, Schwisow said.

The federal funding frees up state funding for work on other projects, including two more siphons slated to be built, Schwisow said.

The state grant money can now be used for control structures used to maintain canal levels, Schwisow said.

Total cost of the Odessa groundwater distribution systems yet to be built is roughly $175 million, with $20 million in bridges that need to be replaced over the bigger canal.

More funding is still needed, Schwisow said.

“There’s only basically three sources of funds — state funds, federal funds and landowner funds,” he said. “The cost we’re looking at for the overall project, it is not feasible for landowners to bear that entire cost. We need more state and federal investment.”

The $750,000 in federal funds join $10 million in state funding to complete the East Low Canal expansion and $5 million to increase the capacity of the first pumping station.

League representatives will travel to Washington, D.C., later in May to meet with officials.

The Potholes Supplemental Feed Route will ensure a consistent supply of water to Potholes Reservoir for the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District and its patrons, Lopez said.

Completion of the Pasco Pump Lateral Project will ensure remaining water is returned to the Columbia River.

The bureau will work with the state Department of Ecology and East and South Columbia Basin irrigation districts to coordinate future work, Lopez said.

Next steps include pumping plant designs for the Odessa groundwater replacement, additional hydrologic modeling and groundwater modeling for the Potholes Supplemental Feed Route and land acquisition and cultural resource work before construction of the Pasco Pump Lateral.


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