Reclamation: A Review of OGWRP Implementation

Reclamation: A Review of OGWRP Implementation

By: Jennifer Hickenbottom, Project Manager, Bureau of Reclamation

Reclamation, working with project partners, has invested over $40 million in federal funding into the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program (OGWRP) and supporting activities since 2005. Prior to the completion of the Odessa Subarea Special Study EIS from 2009 to 2011, Reclamation was able to capitalize on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and complete the Weber Branch Siphon, the Weber Coulee Siphon and Weber Wasteway Repair as components of increasing the capacity of the East Low Canal. Yet, it wasn’t until 2018 with the reevaluation of the benefit/cost ratio, that federal funding could be used for the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program (OGWRP). With the completion of the 44 miles of canal widening and improvements, and completion of the design and construction of the five new siphons and two new radial gates, Reclamation and project partners (East Columbia Basin Irrigation District and Washington State Department of Ecology), supported the decision to use the FY19 federal funds to purchase the remaining five radial gates. This would complete the increased capacity of the East Low Canal, the backbone of the OGWRP (except for needed bridges as discussed in the December Voice of the Project newsletter).

Beginning in 2014, ECBID, Ecology and Reclamation began the implementation of the Odessa Special Study FEIS with the strategy that is known as OGWRP. OGWRP in its entirety, encompasses a multitude of components that must be implemented in a coordinated, strategic manner. All of the OGWRP projects are interconnected, making it difficult to move forward with one project without having planned out the timing, order and funding of the other projects. In total, the implementation of OGWRP consists of constructing five new siphons, constructing and installing seven radial gates, widening and improving approximately 44 miles of canal, modifying or replacing 12 county road bridges, and design and construction of currently, eight pumping plants and nine delivery systems. This, in conjunction with the renewal master water service contract between Reclamation and ECBID, declining municipal and domestic water supplies, multiple power entities with differing procedures, and federal, state, and local governments each with their own policies, highlight the overlapping layers of coordination.

Although Reclamation may not be front and center of this high-profile endeavor, they still have a critical role, and they aim to provide the support and guidance that is necessary for OGWRP to be a success. Reclamation is responsible for: operating CBP infrastructure and distributing federally owned water resources consistent with Federal law and regulations; Approving all master water service contracts with CBP irrigation districts for delivery of water and repayment of project development costs; and Providing technical assistance to ECBID on varying aspects of implementation (Environmental and Cultural compliance, realty acquisition, design review and support, and construction oversight).

Radial Gates: Reclamation has designed and purchased the five remaining radial gates ($1.6million). The contract for the gates is nearly complete; and Reclamation is working closely with ECBID in the installation of the gates. Due to unforeseen substantial pre-construction work needs, installation has been delayed. No gates will be installed this year. ECBID plans to install all five gates in winter of 2021/2022.

Siphons: Reclamation provided designs for all siphons; with upcoming final inspection of the last two siphons (Kansas Prairie 1 & 2).

Pumping Plants & Delivery Systems: Reclamation is providing environmental compliance, cultural compliance, and easement acquisition for all of the systems. Reclamation is also providing design support and review, with the option of completing designs for each of the systems. Finally, Reclamation is providing the construction oversight for each of the systems. With the completion of the EL47.5, Reclamation has been working closely with ECBID, Ecology, IRZ and the EL22.1 Landowners Association, towards the completion of the 30% designs on the EL22.1 System. Reclamation also has resources ready to assist with the EL11.8 and EL79.2 designs when needed.

USDA NRCS RCPP: Reclamation also provided backing to a recent RCPP EL79.2 NRCS grant proposal in the form of in-kind services, and a joint letter of support with Ecology and ECBID.

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