Friday, September 01, 2006

Advisiory Panel Named for Columbia River [Basin] Water Management Program

From the Department of Ecology: [who, it appears, has changed the name of this program -- again: "Basin" is apparently out of the mix since the notice of preparation of a programatic EIS. Getting hard to keep up.]
"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Aug. 28, 2006 06-169 Columbia River panel tapped to offer advice on new water program YAKIMA - A panel representing a broad spectrum of interested parties will help the state launch a new water management program for the Columbia River to sustain growing communities and a healthy economy, and meet the needs of fish and healthy watersheds. Farmers, local government officials, tribes and environmental groups, joined with water, fish and power managers in Ellensburg recently to inaugurate the Columbia River Policy Advisory Group. "Success on the Columbia River can only be had through collaboration," said Jay Manning, director of the Washington Department of Ecology. "Each of these members brings an important perspective to the table that will serve us well as we implement this plan." The panel will provide advice as state agencies move forward to implement the Columbia River Water Management Program, passed this last legislative session with overwhelming support and a commitment of $216 million from the Legislature. The historic water bill calls for the Department of Ecology to aggressively develop new water supplies and improve water management on the Columbia River to support stream flows for fish and new out-of-stream uses, such as farming, industry and municipal growth. It also allows for creativity and flexibility in achieving water resource solutions through voluntary regional agreements. "For too long we were locked in water wars," Manning said. "As vested partners, we're ready to design a program where both the environment and the economy win." One of the panel's first tasks will be to help agencies develop priorities and criteria for funding conservation and storage projects. In addition the group will play a key role in identifying "preferred alternatives" through the current Columbia River Water Management Program environmental impact statement (EIS) process. A draft EIS will be available for comment this fall. "We've got some looming deadlines," Manning explained. "Supply and demand forecasts are due to the Legislature, projects need to be identified, and mechanisms for implementing innovative management tools - such as voluntary regional water agreements - need to be in place. These leaders are going to help us decide how to get the work done." The panel members include: John Stuhlmiller, Washington State Farm Bureau Merrill Ott, Stevens County commissioner Phil Rigdon, Yakama Nation Rob Masonis, American Rivers Gary Chandler, Association of Washington Business Jim Fredricks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kathleen Collins, Water Policy Alliance John Culp, Washington State Conservation Commission Cindy Custer, Bonneville Power Administration Dick Erickson, East Columbia Basin Irrigation District Rick George, Umatilla Tribes Bill Gray, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Bob Hammond, City of Kennewick Tony Grover, Northwest Power and Conservation Council Joe Lukas, Grant County PUD Mo McBroom, Washington Environmental Council Darryll Olsen, Columbia-Snake Rivers Irrigation Association Gary Passmore, Colville Tribes Lisa Pelly, Washington Rivers Conservancy Rudy Peone, Spokane Tribe Mike Schwisow, Columbia Basin Development League Teresa Scott, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Paul Wagner, NOAA Fisheries - US Department of Commerce Rich Stevens, Grant County commissioner Max Benitz, Benton County commissioner The group will meet monthly over the next several months, after which the schedule will be reevaluated. More information on the Columbia River Water Management Program is available online ..."