Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ecology to Prepare EIS for the Columbia River Management Program: Scoping Sessions Announced

From the Department of Ecology:
OLYMPIA - The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) is hosting four open houses in May to receive public input on how to implement the Columbia River water management legislation passed this year. House Bill 2860 directs Ecology to lead an effort to improve water management practices on the Columbia River. The workshops are part of an initial scoping process that will result in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Columbia River Water Management Program. Interested agencies, tribes and the public will have the opportunity to comment on issues they would like to see focused on in the EIS. Scoping comments will be accepted through June 5, 2006. Staff from Ecology as well as outside facilitators will be available at the open houses to answer questions and share insight on the implementation of the bill. The open houses will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at these locations: * May 17 - Wenatchee Wenatchee Convention Center (The Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel), Gala Room, 201 N. Wenatchee Ave. * May 18 - Colville Agricultural Trade Center, 317 W. Astor * May 22 - Moses Lake Fire Department Multi-Purpose Room, 701 E. Third Ave. * May 23 - Kennewick Three Rivers Convention Center, Meeting Room C, 7016 W. Grandridge Blvd. Topics to be addressed include: * Developing a way to deliver Columbia Basin Project water to lands in the Odessa Ground Water Management Subarea (Odessa Subarea)currently served by local ground water. * Creating a secondary route for delivering water to the Potholes Reservoir from Pinto Dam to help ensure reliability of water supply. * Evaluating the feasibility of new off-channel storage facilities to augment supplies of water for instream and out-of-stream use in the Columbia River Basin. * Continuing efforts to secure water from additional drawdown of Lake Roosevelt, including work with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation to identify and implement appropriate mitigation. * Conducting water conservation projects in cooperation with the Washington Conservation Commission, conservation districts, irrigation districts, and other local partners. * Creating a water resources information system for the Columbia River to support effective mainstem water resource planning and management; * Administering a program for entering into voluntary regional agreements to provide new water for out-of-stream use, streamlining permitting processes, and protecting instream flows. Comments may be directed to Derek Sandison, Dept. of Ecology, 15 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 200, Yakima, WA 98902; or by email to: Media contact: Joye Redfield-Wilder (509) 575-2610 or Nelsa Brodie (360) 407-7139"