$15 million included in budget for Odessa groundwater project

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Courtesy photo Construction crews widen the East Low Canal, adding siphons and pumps and canal gates, part of the work involved in changing the irrigation system in the Odessa subarea. The switch from groundwater wells to surface irrigation solves an environmental problem as well.

MOSES LAKE — Although the amount won’t entirely fund the project, the $15 million that was included in the state capital budget for the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program is another step toward providing surface water to local farmers that need it.

Washington’s capital budget, which pledges $4 billion toward infrastructure and construction projects, includes $15 million for the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District for the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program.

The program itself seeks to supply surface water from the Federal Columbia Basin Project (CBP) as a replacement groundwater for the declining irrigation wells in the Odessa Subarea. Other goals include reducing the economic loss to local farmers and providing relief to the declining water levels in the Odessa Aquifer.

The idea behind the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program is to provide surface water from the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District’s East Low Canal via new canal turnouts and numerous pump stations along the canal.

Landowners with property in the Odessa Aquifer area are planning to pledge private investments to help build the needed infrastructure from the East Low Canal to needy areas east of Moses Lake and north of Interstate 90. Some federal funds are still needed, as are state funds and program managers are hoping to have either a partial or a full match to the private funding in the 2019-2021 state capital budget.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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