A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the State of Washington’s Columbia River Initiative (CRI) was signed in 2004 between the State of Washington, the three Columbia Basin Project Irrigation Districts and the Bureau of Reclamation, Pacific Northwest Region. The original MOU was extended from December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2024. One purpose of the MOU is to address unmet needs of the Columbia Basin Project; and address DOE need for water to implement provisions of CRI policy proposal.  Components of the MOU include a mainstem storage program, mainstem drought relief, municipal and industrial water supply, Odessa Subarea, Pasco Basin/508-14 Ground Water Program, and Potholes Reservoir operations. Additional provision includes Lake Roosevelt incremental storage release. 

This MOU has served as the basis for new initiatives on the Project and has resulted in the Legislature investing over $100 million in projects since the MOU was first established. Lead responsibility for projects identified in the MOU is divided among the partners based on the nature of the project and its stage of development. Some projects require new authorities to move forward or extensive environmental and permitting actions. The Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program (OGWRP) is an example of one of the projects which is a result of MOU actions. 

MOU Partners meeting several times a year to update progress on the various projects currently being worked. The meetings are an opportunity for all Partners to stay up to speed on what is happening with a project, what roadblocks are being encountered and what are the next steps in the process. All the Partners have an opportunity to provide input and to be prepared for when the project lead may be handed off to them. 

Project updates for the following projects were provided at the most recent meeting in June 2019: The OGWRP, the WDFW Artesian & Black Lakes Rehydration Pilot project, the Lake Roosevelt Incremental Storage Release Program, the Potholes Supplemental Feed Route project, the Pasco Basin/508-14 Ground Water project and the Coordinated Conservation Plan project.

The Partners have demonstrated through cooperation and coordination that projects that benefit the Columbia Basin Project, its landowners, and those living in the region can come to fruition.  

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