For Immediate Release: December 21, 2022
Othello, WA.- Several partners convened at the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) office on December 15 to launch the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP) watershed planning effort. The funding for this effort has been made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (PL-566).
The allocation of federal funding comes through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District to develop a watershed plan that will assist in obtaining future funding for the design and construction of the OGWRP’s remaining large infrastructure projects. ECBID has partnered with the Columbia Basin Conservation District (CBCD) to facilitate the watershed plan. OGWRP is a regional effort to implement the Odessa Subarea Special Study FEIS (2012), which is building the necessary infrastructure for farmers to exchange valid, state-issued Odessa groundwater rights for Columbia Basin Project water.
Partners at the kick-off meeting included ECBID, the CBCD, the Bureau of Reclamation, the NRCS, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the Department of Ecology's Office of Columbia River. Collectively, the partners met with Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA), the 501c3 contractor selected through a competitive bid process to complete the plan. FCA is a recognized leader in the pursuit of water management solutions that benefit both agriculture and the environment.
“Close coordination will continue to be key,” said Harold Crose of CBCD. “We fully intend to keep partners, stakeholders, and landowners informed of the OGWRP Watershed Planning Project every step of the way.”
Since 2004, the State of Washington has invested more than $126 million, and the Bureau of Reclamation more than $45 million, in the development and early implementation of the OGWRP. The ECBID has also sold $16.8 million of landowner-funded municipal bonds to fund the construction of OGWRP delivery facilities. The OGWRP Watershed Planning Project will build on these significant contributions.
“This meeting marked a significant milestone in the OGWRP project. The OGWRP represents a great opportunity to rescue an aquifer from decline by finding an alternative Columbia Basin Project water supply for existing withdrawals. This will secure more water for our local communities and ensure sustainable agricultural production that many of those same communities rely upon for their economic prosperity. The boost that a watershed plan will bring to achieving our collective goals can’t be overstated, and we are hopeful that this watershed plan will allow us to be competitive for additional funding to continue to further develop this project,” explained Craig Simpson, Secretary-Manager of the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District
Additionally, the District is involved in the development of 87,000 acres associated with OGWRP. The District provides a reliable supply of water that irrigates the cropland that produces food shipped domestically and internationally.
Partners in this effort are the NRCS, Bureau of Reclamation, Dept. of Ecology’s Office of Columbia River, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, CBCD, and ECBID, with tremendous support from elected officials, the Columbia Basin Development League, and local producers.
As the watershed plan project develops, updates will be made to: https://www.ogwrp-programs.org/home https://ecbid.org/ogwrp-watershed-planning-project-pd-566/ About the Partners
The Columbia Basin Conservation District is a political subdivision of the State of Washington with powers and authorities identified in the RCW 89.08. The organization is led and operated locally by an elected and appointed Board of Supervisors who oversees staff. The CBCD serves all of Grant County and the irrigated portion of Adams County, with a main office located in Moses Lake.
Located in central Washington State, the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District is the largest 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. Additionally, the District is involved in the development of 87,000 acres associated with OGWRP. The District provides a reliable supply of water that irrigates the cropland that produces food shipped domestically and internationally.