Roylene Comes At Night, NRCS’ Washington State Conservationist recently announced an award of $6 million through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to help producers complete the on-farm phase of the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP).
The OGWRP is a targeted plan to help producers retire their deep wells and connect their farms to irrigation pumping plants and lateral lines once they are constructed and operational.
The recently awarded RCPP funding includes technical and financial assistance for the on-farm work necessary to tie sprinkler mainlines to the new lateral lines on the EL 79.2 associated systems (EL 80.7 and 84.6). These systems will be designed to serve at least 13,000 acres and include 11,180 acres of high-value irrigated farmland that currently relies on a rapidly declining aquifer. The RCPP partners plan to work with up to 13 farms, ultimately conserving over 33,000 acre-feet of water in the aquifer each year for domestic and industrial uses.
RCPP funding, when approved, allows five years to implement on-farm projects. RCPP is an annually occurring program and future RCPP proposals will be submitted as pumping plants and lateral lines are ready for construction.
The Power of OGWRP’s Partners
RCCP was tailor-made for projects like the Odessa where success can often be measured by the strengths of the many contributors/partners needed to make a project of this scale and scope a success. The program was developed to target financial resources to projects that have a high level of local support which requires a dollar-for-dollar match to be considered eligible for funding.
Grant County Conservation District (now Columbia Basin Conservation District), worked closely with seven contributing partners and OGWRP landowners to develop the proposal that has been awarded through RCPP, a highly competitive national program. Contributing partners include:
East Columbia Basin Irrigation District ($250,000; planning, design engineering)
Bureau of Reclamation ($1M; design support, construction oversight, easement acquisition, etc.)
Washington State Department of Agriculture ($150,000; economic analysis)
Washington State Department of Ecology’s Office of Columbia River (OCR) ($6.2M; design and engineering, water right changes)
Washington State University ($122,587; groundwater monitoring)
Lincoln Conservation District ($200,640; education and outreach)
Columbia Basin Conservation District ($250,000; project management)
Washington State Conservation Commission ($150,000; cultural resources)
While each of these entities’ contributions are critically important to this project, we would especially like to acknowledge and thank OCR for committing $6 million from a recent legislative proviso for the EL 80.7 and 84.6 systems. We could not have met the RCPP partner contribution requirement without this significant contribution from OCR and our legislature.
Combining & Leveraging Funding to Accelerate OGWRP Implementation
The RCPP project will provide technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers connecting to the EL 80.7 and 84.6 pumping plants and lateral lines to coincide with the projected completion schedule of the pumps and laterals to the farms. We will continue to pursue RCPP funding for on-farm systems and the NRCS Small Watershed Program (PL 566) funding for the pump stations and laterals.
OGWRP partners, landowners, and elected officials are working closely to identify, combine, and leverage funding sources to help accelerate the implementation of OGWRP. The following diagram illustrates the main, potential funding sources that are currently identified. Please note, several other smaller funding sources are being used to assist with implementation – as illustrated with the recently awarded RCPP proposal.
There is a lot of work ahead, but we are confident that we have the right team to bring this project to a successful conclusion. We thank you for all your support and we look forward to working closely with the OGWRP partners and producers to make RCPP a success.
For questions, please contact Harold Crose, Columbia Basin Conservation District at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (509) 681-0548.