(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that that the funding she included for the Odessa Subarea Special Study in the fiscal year 2010 Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations bill has passed the full Senate.
Senator Murray has been an outspoken advocate for federal support to sustain the Odessa aquifer, which supplies drinking water for local residents and irrigation for millions of dollars worth of crops, and this year she successfully secured $3 million in funding after the project was eliminated from the President’s budget.
"In the Columbia Basin, nothing could be more important than water access," said Senator Patty Murray. "From Moses Lake to the Tri-Cities, our farmers and communities need and deserve a safe, reliable, sustainable water supply. This bill makes a strong investment in ensuring that the Odessa Subarea aquifer continues to provide the water resources that this region needs to continue to thrive.”
“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 Mike LaPlant, the Chairman of the 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.”
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.