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NRCS Adopts the Reclamation Odessa Subarea Special Study Final Environmental Impact Statement



NRCS Adopts the Reclamation Odessa Subarea Special Study Final Environmental Impact Statement


Contact: Jules Riley, NRCS

Water Resources Planning Specialist

Phone: (509) 507-0178


SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – (June 21, 2024) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service – Washington (NRCS-WA) has adopted the 2012 Odessa Subarea Special Study Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) produced by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).


NRCS-WA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) that selects Alternative 4A, the same alternative that was selected in the Reclamation 2013 ROD for the FEIS. East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) in partnership with Reclamation, Ecology, and NRCS-WA will base the development of a Watershed Plan under the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program authorized by Public Law 83-566 (P.L. 83-566) on the existing FEIS. With an Authorized Watershed Plan, ECBID will be eligible to pursue NRCS P.L. 83-566 funding to support the phased implementation of the distribution systems needed to supply surface water to eligible lands currently irrigated with groundwater under the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program.


Located in Central Washington, ECBID is the largest irrigation district in the state, with authorization to irrigate 472,000 acres. Currently, 169,000 acres are developed and managed by 4,500 landowners within the federal Columbia Basin Project (CBP). The FEIS analyzed the potential to replace groundwater irrigation on up to 102,600 acres of land in the Odessa Subarea with surface water from the CBP. The alternatives put forward in the FEIS analyzed the potential to replace groundwater irrigation on a range of acreages (up to 102,600 acres) with varying diversion amounts of CBP surface water (up to 273,000 acre-feet).


The Odessa Subarea aquifer is experiencing significant declines in groundwater levels. Domestic, commercial, municipal, and industrial uses, as well as water quality, are also affected. Many of the groundwater wells in the area are currently drilled to a depth of 800 to 1,000 feet, with some as deep as 2,100 feet. Some wells in the area have been reported out of production. Drilling deeper wells is not feasible because deeper water may not be available, may be potentially unusable, or may be too expensive to access. As a result of this decline, the ability of producers to irrigate their crops is at risk. 


The Reclamation 2013 ROD and the NRCS-WA 2024 ROD identify Alternative 4A: Partial Modified-Replacement-Banks with Limited Spring Diversion Scenario as the selected alternative. Alternative 4A seeks to replace acre-for-acre groundwater irrigation on 70,000 acres in the Odessa Subarea with 164,000 acre-feet of new Columbia River diversions. Since Reclamation published the FEIS in 2012, the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program, a consortium of local, state, and federal partners, has worked towards phased implementation of Alternative 4A.

 

The adoption of the FEIS and development of a Watershed Plan under P.L. 83-566 are sponsored by ECBID with funding and technical support from NRCS-WA, Reclamation, and Ecology. Columbia Basin Conservation District, Farmers Conservation Alliance, and Parametrix are assisting with the planning process.


The NRCS-WA ROD and additional information are available online at the following websites:


Spanish language translation of the ROD is available upon request.


Encontrará más información en línea en https://www.ogwrp-programs.org/watershed-plan o en la página web de avisos públicos del NRCS de Washington en https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/conservation-basics/conservation-by-state/washington/nrcs-washington-public-notices.


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