The Columbia River Policy Advisory Group (CBPAG) at their June 2nd meeting received a presentation on the 2023-2025 Capital Budget Development from Melissa Downs, Office of Columbia River Financial and Projects Section Manager. The development of the biennial Capital Budget, which is the primary source of funding for a number of Columbia Basin Project activities, starts with the Department of Ecology Office (DOE) of Columbia River (OCR) planning over a year before the start of the biennial funding period on July 1, 2023.

OCR reviews all the projects that are underway across the entire program and develops a plan to move some projects along to completion and to identify new project to be started. Once OCR has their plan set, it is submitted to DOE Headquarters for review and approval about the end of June. The Director of Ecology determines the agency priorities and submits the agency request to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) in early September. OFM, the Governor’s budget office, rolls up the requests from all the agencies and applies the Governor’s policy directives and priorities. The Governor submits his budget proposal to the House and Senate in early December. The Legislature has the final authority to appropriate funds for both operating and capital budgets during the session beginning on January 9, 2023.

Downes and OCR Director Tom Tebb briefed the CRPAG on the details of the proposal they anticipate sending to the Director later this month. Included in the proposal are the following Columbia Basin Project related items.

Odessa Ground Water Replacement Project - $20 million for support of all pumping plant/delivery system designs. Director. Tebb indicated that this proposal is in keeping with the desire to complete what is started. He also indicated that system designs could be done at the same time the recently funded OGWRP Watershed Planning Project is being developed. Systems would then be “shovel ready” when funding through USDA NRCS PL 566 could be available. Potholes Supplemental Feed Route - $1-1.75 million. This funding would go toward completing the impact mitigation of making the feed route operational. Using Crab Creek to replace East Low Canal capacity to feed water to Pothole to ensure South District’s water supply is a necessary component of the Ground Water Replacement Project.

Pasco Basin Water Supply - $400,000 The funding will support the formal rule making process that OCR is undertaking to allow access to Artificially Stored Ground Water (ASGW) that exists in the Pasco Basin. The area is also known as WAC 508-14 for the section of administrative code establishing a ground water management area. ASGW has accumulated in the region as a result of Columbia Basin Project operations and a program will be developed to access the Reclamation water by issuing water service contracts to interest landowners. A similar program exists in the Quincy Basin where over 55,000 acres are now irrigated in this manner.

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