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Columbia River plan passes legislature

Washington Ag

February 15, 2006

A plan for management of Columbia River water, which is supported by the governor, has now overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the state legislature. The water plan will however also need legislative approval of a ten-year, 200-million dollar funding package to build new water storage reservoirs. Under the water management bill two-thirds of such new water would be used for agriculture and municipalities and one-third would go back to the Columbia for fish.

During floor debate Tuesday, Senator Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla called it a good day for eastern Washington’s economy.

Hewitt: “And many people here this year said this couldn‘t be done. But I think what this did is show that we can work in a bipartisan fashion down here and accomplish what is good in policy for all of the state of Washington.”

Senator Joyce Mulliken had some trepidation given past promises that haven’t been kept but asked colleagues to take a leap of faith.

Mulliken: “I ask the body to be vigilant to make sure that the promises that were made in the past will now be kept for the future.”

Seattle Democrat Erik Poulsen who chairs the Water, Energy and Environment Committee called work on the Columbia water management plan the most rewarding of his career.

Poulsen: “I came to understand why water is so important to you. And I bet you never thought a liberal Seattle Democrat would figure it out. But I did.”

Poulsen expressed hope that a new era of trust and cooperation will lead to more progress on water issues.

I’m Bob Hoff.


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