The Washington Department of Ecology has released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement that analyzes options for additional allocations of water currently stored behind Grand Coulee Dam.
The draft SEIS evaluates numerous policy choices for determining who will receive the additional water and the timing of releases of that water from Lake Roosevelt.
The additional water is being made available through Washington state's Columbia River Basin Water Management Program, authorized by the Legislature in 2006.
Ecology proposes releases that will increase stream flows in the Columbia River for fish, and provide water to the Odessa Subarea, and relief to irrigators whose waters may be interrupted during drought, as well as deliver new water to cities and farms.
"For the first time in many years we'll be able to issue new water rights from the Columbia River and do so in a way that balances both the environmental and economic needs of the region," said Derek Sandison, Ecology's central regional director in Yakima.
The draft SEIS looks at three scenarios for releasing the water based on time of year, demand, and to maximize fish flows. In addition, the document considers policy options for who receives the water.
Under consideration are the impacts associated with releasing up to 132,500 acre feet of water from Lake Roosevelt based on a 1938 water storage right now held by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
According to the proposal, 82,500 acre-feet of water would be released from storage on an annual basis for the following purposes:
-- 30,000 acre-feet to replace groundwater now used to irrigate agriculture in the Odessa Subarea,
-- 27,500 acre-feet to enhance flows downstream of Grand Coulee Dam, and
-- 25,000 acre-feet for municipal and industrial use along the Columbia River.
In drought years, 50,000 acre-feet of water would be released as follows:
-- 33,000 acre-feet to support existing interruptible water right holders along the Columbia River mainstem, and
-- 17,000 acre-feet of storage water to enhance flows downstream of Grand Coulee Dam.
The draft SEIS for the proposed management program can be viewed online at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/cwp/cr_lkroos.html