The Bureau of Reclamation and the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Office of Columbia River have released for public comment the completed the Odessa Subarea Special Study Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The study examines the feasibility, acceptability, and environmental consequences of alternatives to replace groundwater currently used for irrigation on approximately 102,600 acres in the Odessa Ground Water Management Subarea with Columbia Basin Project surface water.
A “no action” alternative, four partial-replacement alternatives, and four full-replacement alternatives are evaluated. The draft EIS lists four specific needs:
-- declining groundwater supply for agriculture and other uses in the study area;
-- possible significant economic loss to the region’s agricultural sector because of continued decline of groundwater supply;
-- environmental concerns and interests, including Columbia River seasonal flow objectives for salmon, steelhead, and habitats of importance to other sensitive species, and
-- commitment by Reclamation, Ecology, and Columbia Basin Project irrigation districts to cooperatively conduct the study.
The purpose of the study is to address issues related to the declining aquifer in the Odessa Subarea that impact the ability of farmers to irrigate their crops, as well as domestic, commercial, municipal, and industrial water uses.
The public review and comment period is scheduled to run until Dec. 31. Comments may be submitted orally, electronically, or by regular mail and all comments will be considered and responded to in the final EIS.
Oral comments may be presented at one of two open house public hearings. The hearings will be from 3 to 7 p.m. on the dates and locations listed below:
Coulee Dam Town Hall
300 Lincoln Ave.
Coulee Dam Wash. 99116
Grant County Advanced Technologies Center Building 1800
Big Bend Community College
7611 Bolling St. NE
Moses Lake Wash. 98837
The document can be found at http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/ucao_misc/odessa/index.html