Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Columbia River water users experience smooth permit process

By Brook Beeler, communication manager, Eastern Region

Columbia river looking upstream from Wanapum Dam.
As irrigation season is quickly approaching, water users upstream of the Wanapum Dam are finding supply solutions quicker than expected. A simplified permit, paired with technical assistance site visits, are speeding up the process for many irrigators to get their pumps, pipes, and fish screens moved to current water levels.

The Columbia River system has been lowered in response to a crack in the dam near Vantage.

“We are so appreciative of the partnership and cooperation among the state agency family. Each has shown commitment to ensuring homes, farms, and communities have access to water. Whether it's manpower, funding, or creative problem-solving, our partners have made the response to ensure secure water supplies is as smooth as possible,” said Ecology Eastern Regional Director Grant Pfeifer.

Ecology has received 33 reports of water users experiencing problems with either irrigation infrastructure or groundwater wells, so far. Some also report their problems have been resolved and assistance isn’t currently needed.

Those that do need help are being scheduled for technical assistance site visits. Washington State Conservation Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife staff are on the ground working directly with farmers to complete permit applications for in-water work. In some cases, farmers are receiving verbal approval and can begin work immediately.

In addition, Ecology has sent letters to water right holders in the Wanapum and Rock Island pools reminding water users that customer service representatives are available to take calls for anyone experiencing problems. This will help narrow the inventory of potential problems as Ecology explores approaches to remedy water supply concerns.

Customer service phone lines: Chelan, Douglas, and Kittitas counties call 509-575-2490; Grant county call 509-329-3400

For detailed and up-to-date information visit our website: Wanapum Dam structural damage could affect water supply.

Previous ECOconnect blog: Columbia River water users worry they may be high and dry.

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