Grand Coulee Dam (copy)

The Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington state. Public comment will be accepted from Columbia Basin stakeholders through July 2 on a draft of the 2021 long-term water supply and demand forecast.

Washington stakeholders can share their thoughts on the prediction for water availability in the Columbia Basin.

Public comment will be accepted through July 2 on a draft of the 2021 long-term water supply and demand forecast, developed by Washington State University's Water Research Center in coordination with the state Department of Ecology.

Online workshops will be at 2:30 p.m. June 8 and 8:30 am. June 17.

The report tries to make predictions for the next 20 years. Ecology updates the report every five years, department communications manager Joye Redfield-Wilder said.

The report predicts average temperatures will continue to increase in the Pacific Northwest and the region will see more rain and less snow, affecting seasonal tributary flow and endangered fish species.

"This is the weather that's occurring today, and some grain farmers and pastureland cattle (ranchers) are facing hardships because there hasn't been the spring rain," Redfield-Wilder said.

According to the report, agricultural demands may come earlier as crops mature faster, due to changing climate.

The growing season could occur earlier, which could potentially give farmers enough time to plant two crops, Redfield-Wilder said.

Water demands are likely to increase in some areas of Eastern Washington, with higher agricultural demand in the Okanogan and most of the eastern slope of the Cascades, and greater residential demand in the heart of Central Washington and the Yakima basin, according to Ecology.

The department and university want feedback from stakeholders to develop plans accordingly, such as changes in crops grown and water use trends in cities.

"Over the next five years, groundwater might be the next big thing to examine," she said, noting the department is studying or has studied water levels in the Odessa and Walla Walla areas.

Stakeholders can also take information from the report back to local officials to demonstrate the importance of water, Redfield-Wilder said.

"Like when we do a drought advisory, this also helps local communities show their city councils or public works departments the need to take water conservation seriously or be forward-looking," she said.

The final report is due to the state legislature in November.

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