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What a year! The League played a key role in securing the funding necessary to complete the Odessa Subarea Special Study (OSSS) and lobbied for the funding needed to begin implementation. No small task in an environment of budget cuts, austerity and competing priorities. But thanks to our diligence and to the support of our partners, just over $31 million will be invested from the state of Washington to help build infrastructure of the Columbia Basin Project as the East Low Canal is expanded to full capacity.
The real movement began on April 2 when Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director Lorri Lee signed the Record of Decision on the Final EIS and Planning Report that allowed the process to begin that would implement the "preferred alternative" identified in the OSSS.
Now, and likely for the next five to eight years, as the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District transitions to full implementation, the build-out phase of the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP) will continue to be a “front and center” issue.
Of course, continued development of the Columbia Basin Project is a primary function of the League but there is a growing concern about maintenance of existing facilities, highlighted by the current debate around Keys Pumping Plant issues. The League will need to clearly identify and add more focus to these issues.
At the federal level, we will begin to ratchet up our advocacy and outreach targeting the Bureau of Reclamation, members of Congress, their staff and key committee staff. While the state contribution to expanding the canal is significant as is the local financing through the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District, we expect that the Bureau of Reclamation should contribute to costs associated with completing the canal expansion.
We made huge strides this year but we have just as many facing us next year and we need your support. Your membership provides critical resources necessary to keep attention focused where it needs to be….protecting our water.
We appreciate your support of the League!