MOSES LAKE - The first batch of water permits for municipal and industrial water users along the Columbia River will be approved by the state later this month.
Recipients include the "Quad Cities" of Richland, Pasco, Kennewick and West Richland, and the City of Bridgeport, where there's been a moratorium on additional groundwater withdrawals, Sunland Estates and Chelan County PUD, Derek Sandison, director of the state Department of Ecology's Office of Columbia River, said Wednesday.
He spoke during this week's Annual Meeting of the Columbia Basin Development League at Big Bend Community College.
In Bridgeport, there has been a long-standing problem with water being available. More water will provide for Bridgeport's growth and future development.
"Their existing water right allowed them to pump a certain amount of water," he said. "Their water demand reached that level. (They) couldn't withdraw any additional groundwater for growth needs."
In Grant County, the Gorge Amphitheater Campground applied for additional groundwater.
It is unclear if the campground is close enough to the Columbia River to take advantage of Lake Roosevelt water being put into the river, he explained.
The first group of approved permits come to between 10 and 20, Sandison said.
The state is working its way through 100 applications.
Grant County PUD likely has its permit approved in January.
"It will probably take about a year and a half for all the permits to be issued," he explained. "We've talked with each of our applicants to make sure they still want the water and their plans are still the same."
Some water applications are 10 years old or older.
Based on applicants' plans, the state must make sure it has good handle on how to allocate the water, he said. Another source of water, the Sullivan Lake Project, is coming online next year.
Statewide there is about 7,000 pending water right and water right change applications, according to the DOE's website.
The additional water was made possible by an agreement signed Aug. 2 near Moses Lake between the DOE and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The agreement allowed for additional water for 100 communities along the Columbia River.
Milt Johnson, the Columbia Basin Development League's vice chair, and guest speaker, James Ziglar, look at a map during the league's Annual Meeting on Tuesday at Big Bend Community College.
Derek Sandison, director of the state Department of Ecology's Office of Columbia River, speaks during the Columbia Basin Development League's Annual Meeting.