(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has worked to include $14,548,000 in a Senate spending bill for two critical water projects in the Moses Lake/Columbia River Basin region. The funding total represents a combined $3,400,000 increase over what was included in the President's budget for the two projects. The funding for these projects will help increase access to surface water resources and improve the reliability of water delivery within the Columbia Basin Project.
"An accessible and sustainable supply of irrigation water is essential to the farmers and economic health of the Columbia Basin region," said Senator Murray "From Moses Lake to the Tri-Cities, our farmers and the region rely on the Odessa Subarea Aquifer for drinking water as well as irrigation water. This bill invests in two projects that are focused on solutions to increasing access to surface water resources in the region."
The funding was included in the Fiscal Year 2009 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill which passed the full Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday and will next be considered by the full Senate. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murray advocated for and ultimately delivered increased funding for the projects.
More information on these critical projects is below (increases are above Presidents FY 2009 budget:
COLUMBIA BASIN PROJECT – $13,548,000 - An increase of $3,000,000
The $3,000,000 in increased funding would go toward acquiring the right of way and begin construction of a supplemental feed route for Potholes Reservoir, which will increase access to irrigation surface water in the region.
"Development of the Potholes Supplemental Feed Route is part of the Columbia Basin Development League’s overall effort to focus attention on the critical need to make improvements on what is probably Eastern Washington’s largest public infrastructure," said Clark Kagele, Chairman, Columbia Basin Development League Board of Trustees. "The Columbia Basin Project is the engine that supports the economy and recreational opportunities of the region."
ODESSA SUBAREA SPECIAL STUDY – $1,000,000 – An increase of $400,000
This funding advances the feasibility study, which seeks to identify the best way to use Columbia Basin Project surface irrigation water to replace ground water in the Odessa Subarea aquifer. The ground water is currently being used for irrigation, and is depleting the aquifer. Once completed, this exchange of water sources will allow the ground water resource to be saved for future domestic use in the region and continue the existing irrigated agriculture production base, which is an integral part of the regional economy.
"We are already seeing the effects of the declining aquifer resulting in dry wells and deep well lifts that make power costs so high that crop production is no longer profitable," said Clark Kagele, Chairman, Columbia Basin Development League Board of Trustees. "It’s imperative that we keep the Odessa Study on track so solutions can be implemented while we still have time to reverse the crisis that is looming."