09 Mar Moving Forward in Fiscal Year 2021
By Kate Walker, Legislative Assistant, Water Strategies
The Columbia Basin Development League’s (League) continued advocacy efforts, and the hard work of members of the Washington congressional delegation, have once again benefited Columbia Basin Project stakeholders.
The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) announced the distribution of additional funds for Columbia Basin Project (CBP) projects from the Consolidation Appropriations Act passed in December of 2020. These funds are in addition to budgeted fiscal year 2021 funding. Reclamation provided funds for Odessa Groundwater Replacement Project (OGWRP), Potholes Supplemental Feed Route, and Pasco Groundwater Management as follows:
- $222,000 additional capability for OGWRP physical modeling for EL 22.1 and EL 79.2 and design support for those systems as well as other project advancement.
- $1.25 million for Potholes Supplemental Feed route to mitigate the effect of using Crab Creek to wheel project water supplies, including protection of Trout Lodge Fish Hatchery and Grant County Airport.
- $500,000 for 508-14 or the Pasco Basin, a Reclamation ground water mound accumulated from unused CBP water, CBP seepage, and return flows. [Funds will be used to establish program rules and guidelines in coordination with the Washington Department of Ecology for use of the water. The Washington Legislature is currently considering SB 5230 which will provide the Department of Ecology with authorities necessary to move the project ahead.]
Looking forward to fiscal year 2022, the League will continue to work with the Washington State delegation on appropriations and, like previous years, will submit requests to Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, Representative Newhouse, Representative McMorris Rodgers, Representative Herrera Beutler, and Representative Schrier, for OGWRP. In addition, the League will submit report language to Congress highlighting the importance of the Columbia Basin Project and the OGWRP.
President Biden has yet to nominate a Reclamation commissioner or a deputy secretary of water and science although candidates have been identified as of the writing of this article. It is unclear when the president’s budget will be released; however, the League will continue to advocate for inclusion of the CBP.
Additionally, the League will ask Congress to prioritize water infrastructure in any transportation or infrastructure legislation, to fund the WaterSMART grants program in its fiscal year 2022 energy and water appropriations, to pass the Water Supply Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Utilization Act, and to authorize the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program at increased levels. By supporting these vital programs, Congress has an opportunity to address our nation’s aging water infrastructure and provide the needed funding to support rural water projects across the country, including the CBP.