15 Dec OGWRP Partners and Legislators Pursue Significant NRCS Funding
By: Harold Crose, Resources Conservationist, Grant County Conservation District
The Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP) has been under development for several years. It is time to complete the design and construction of the infrastructure needed to deliver the new Columbia Basin Project water to approximately 87,700 acres.
The Grant County Conservation District (GCCD), East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID), many producers, and our local legislators are pursuing funding through USDA Farm Bill conservation programs, specifically, the NRCS PL-566 Small Watershed Program to help implement the next and final phases of OGWRP. This new initiative, known as the Odessa Watershed Program is the starting point for securing significant federal funding through NRCS, including potentially up to 100% of engineering costs and 75% of construction costs for the OGWRP pump stations and laterals. But, such funding would require congressional approval.
You may be wondering; how long could it take to secure funding and get projects on the ground? During the OGWRP Producers Meeting hosted by GCCD on October 27, Larry Johnson, NRCS’ Washington State Conservation Engineer shared an estimated timeline, including the various steps that need to be taken prior to implementing projects through PL-566.
While NRCS’s timeline showed May 1, 2024 as the soonest possible day engineering and construction can start under PL-566, GCCD is
fairly confident that the watershed planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process can be accelerated based on the significant amount of work that was previously completed in 2012 through the US Bureau of Reclamation’s and Department of Ecology’s joint Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Odessa Subarea Special Study.