Ecology gets skeptical review about redistribution of water rights, creation of regional water bank - 'How much water do fish require' question left unanswered

Washington Farm Bureau


Columbia River Basin, Washington - A STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY PLAN FOR ALLOCATING COLUMBIA RIVER water received a skeptical review last week at a meeting in Pasco. (Tri City Herald, May 1) Tom Fitzsimmons, chief of staff to Gov. Gary Locke, said the plan would redistribute existing water rights to provide more water for irrigators, municipalities and fish.

The plan calls for creation of a regional water bank, increased storage and more conservation, with the goal of returning "one bucket" of water for fish for every "two buckets" taken out, according to Fitzsimmons.

However, the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators' Association questioned the need for a water bank.

The irrigators also questioned the science behind a recent DOE-sponsored study, noting that it failed to answer the critical question, "How much water do fish require?"

Cities also questioned the plan. Said West Richland Mayor Jerry Peltier, "I don't see any thread of common sense in what we're doing here."

In other news from the Farm Bureau...

KLAMATH BASIN FARMERS WHO SWITCHED TO WELLS AFTER THE BUREAU OF Reclamation shut off water from the Klamath River in 2001 are facing another crisis.

The water table has fallen 20 feet in some places and wells are beginning to falter. (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 3) Oregon has issued 130 new well permits since 2001. In addition, federal agencies have been paying farmers to use well water, instead of water from the reclamation district, and the Bureau of Reclamation expects to pay at least $1.6 million for more well water this summer to supplement river flows for coho salmon.



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