15 Sep Homestead Pumping Plant: Meeting Water Supply Demand in Columbia Basin
By: Roger Sonnichsen, Secretary-Manager, Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District
This 2021 irrigation season developed into the hottest year on record in Central Washington. The hottest recorded temperature occurred in Ephrata, Washington on June 29 at 116° F; June and July were five to nine degrees above average. These extreme temperatures resulted in extended peak irrigation demands. The West Canal operated at peak throughout June and July.
This peak operation refocused the need to solve the West Canal capacity issue around mile 20 located in Ephrata. The West Canal’s original design had a normal design limit established, with an additional 10% over normal capacity design. Operation of the West Canal in prior years resulted in limited use of the 10% over normal capacity for only a few days up to a couple weeks. With the increased temperatures and duration this year, the West Canal operated within this space for over two months.
The Homestead Pumping Plant was originally proposed by Reclamation in 1955 to supplement the supply of the West Canal if later Project development overtaxed canal capacity. This proposal was part of the plan to serve lands in Block 88 and Block 881 via the West Canal in lieu of another proposed canal, the Potholes West Canal. In 1973, Reclamation also considered the proposed Homestead Pumping Plant as a source of water to serve deferred and by-passed areas of the Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District (QCBID).
Homestead Pumping Plant was proposed at the confluence of the W645 Drain and the Frenchman Hills Wasteway. Water would be pumped from these channels into the West Canal for irrigation of Project lands down stream of West Canal mile 61. Utilization of this water would reduce the amount of water passing through the Ephrata section at mile 20. A Homestead Pumping Plant would allow the West Canal flow to be within normal capacity elevations.
The Homestead Pumping Plant, if sized to pump 200cfs, would meet the demand of the current developed lands allowing normal capacity operation. A pump plant of this size is estimated to cost $10,000,000. A Homestead Pumping Plant could be sized to provide water to deferred and bypassed lands completing the development of lands within QCBID. A Homestead Pumping Plant sized to pump 400cfs to meet current and additional demand is estimated to cost $15,000,000. QCBID’s next steps are to have dialogs with Reclamation about the best way to work toward implementation of this project and to begin committing funds for initial engineering studies once this path is determined