By MATTHEW WEAVER
Construction to widen the East Low Canal in the Odessa Subarea could begin as early as this fall, according to the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District.
The district is in contract negotiations with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the delivery of water under the Lake Roosevelt Incremental Releases program to provide irrigation water to replace declining groundwater in the area.
According to a press release from the district, the primary criteria to be eligible to receive Columbia Basin Irrigation Project water include:
* Land with a state-issued groundwater permit.
* Inclusion in the project within district boundaries.
* The ability to enter into a water service contract with the irrigation district.
Secretary-manager Craig Simpson said the district is still waiting for information from the bureau and Washington Department of Ecology to contact eligible landowners.
The bureau estimates the total cost of the project at roughly $730 million, with the majority of the cost to be borne by landowners.
Simpson said he believes the cost will be "far less" than the bureau's estimate, based on similar district projects in the past. The bureau always takes a conservative approach to its estimations, Simpson said.
The district is hiring a development coordinator position and working on designs for widening of the canal. The bureau is working on the designs for the expansion and for the five siphons and gates along the canal.
"It's been a long process to get to this point. However, the work is just beginning," Simpson said. "The implementation is a large undertaking. There's a lot of planning and design that need to go into place before we can get water delivered out to those folks for groundwater replacement."
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