Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Initiative has become the Partnership. We're saved.

Washington Department of Ecology - Columbia Water Partnership (CWP)

"The Columbia Water Partnership (CWP) is an ongoing effort to work with Tribal, Federal, State and local governments, farmers, environmental groups, municipalities, and other stakeholders to develop a long-term approach to water allocation from the Columbia Mainstem. The CWP builds on work begun during the Locke Administration's Columbia River Initiative or CRI. "The Partnership has two main components: The Columbia River Task Force (Task Force), a joint legislative/executive group that is examining policy alternatives for Columbia River water allocation, and Ongoing work to negotiate cooperative agreements with Tribal and Federal partners to obtain water for in- and out-of-stream uses. "Background "Ecology has been studying whether additional water can be diverted from the Columbia River for off-stream uses that support the state's economy without adversely affecting endangered salmon runs. "Currently, new water-right decisions are subject to determinations made in consultation with state, federal and tribal fish agencies as well as affected counties and cities. Recent court proceedings have shown the consultation rule to be 'unworkable.' "Ecology also has been studying ways to support water rights that can be interrupted during drought years or during periods of low flow crucial to the survival of salmon. There are approximately 300 junior water rights that may be subject to interruption during low flows on the Columbia River. An analysis conducted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), (released in March 2004), along with an economics study prepared by the University of Washington (released in December 2003), were commissioned by the agency to help in the crafting of a new management program for the Columbia River."