15 Sep League Coordinates Policymaker Tours: Celebrating OGWRP 47.5 Milestone!
Over the past few months, the League scheduled a series of tours for policymakers to learn about the development and impact of the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program (OGWRP).
Facilitated by the League, in August Congressman Dan Newhouse and staff; Adams County Commissioners Dan Blankenship, Jay Weise, and Terry Thompson; and State Legislators Representative Alex Ybarra and Skyler Rude toured the EL 47.5 pump station and surrounding features led by East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) Manager Craig Simpson and Development Director Jed Crowther. League Executive Director Vicky Scharlau, Deputy Director, Sara Higgins, and Director of Government Affairs, Mike Schwisow co-hosted. In September, we hosted Senator Murray’s in-state staff, and in October, we welcomed Representative Keith Goehner, Grant County Commissioners Stone, Jones, and Carter.
The completion of the EL 7.5 pump station marks a defining milestone not just for the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program (OGWRP), but for the greater Columbia Basin Project. The decline of groundwater in the Odessa area is threatening the environment, local economy, and individual livelihoods in over a dozen rural communities that rely on the same water farmers currently use to irrigate crops. The goal of OGWRP is to reserve limited groundwater supplies for environmental and municipal needs by providing a reliable, long term irrigation water supply. OGWRP is an aquifer rescue mission. The first water delivery of the EL 47.5 pump station showcases the progress that can be made when federal, state, local, and individual stakeholder interests unite under a common goal.
The EL 47.5 delivery system, named for the number of miles it is located from the start of East Low Canal, currently replaces 8,521 acres on deep-well pumping from the Odessa Aquifer and transitions those acres to reliable Columbia Basin Project irrigation water supply. Reducing groundwater depletion by up to 73 million gallons per day, this milestone is significant not only because it removes pressure off the declining aquifer, but it is fulfilling a federal promise for water made decades ago. State Representative Mary Dye shared: “The opening of this new pumping station is a significant milestone in our long-term efforts to supply enough water to preserve our local farms and the jobs they provide, and save nearly 30 communities that rely on the Odessa Subarea Aquifer for drinking water.” (Source: iFiberOne)
In addition to the EL 47.5 pump station, other completed OGWRP projects include: Weber Coulee Siphon, Weber Branch Siphon, Lind Coulee #1 Siphon, Lind Coulee #2 Siphon, Warden Siphon, Lind Coulee 1 Radial Gate, Lind Coulee Waste Water Radial Gate, Liesle and Calloway Bridges, East Low Canal Widening, Kansas Prairie 1 Siphon, and Kansas Prairie 2 Siphon. The League’s recent tours included stops at some of some of these project accomplishments, too.