Water Conservation in the Columbia River Basin
In arid climates like that found in the Columbia Basin,
efficient water use is more than a lofty goal, it’s a necessity.
Conservation plays a key role in the Office of Columbia River’s
efforts to increase the region’s water supply. OCR has made a
major commitment to fund conservation projects and is
continuously searching for additional conservation
opportunities. OCR’s current efforts are bringing immediate
benefits to fish and to the Odessa Subarea, a region in crisis
due to a declining aquifer. OCR is also funding pilot projects
that may yield water for new water rights.
Conservation Projects Benefiting Fish
Ranch - An open canal was converted to a closed pipe
system. The increased efficiency allows the Benton County
ranch to divert less water from the Yakima, adding an
additional 6,436 ac-ft of water to stream flows when fish
need it most.
Water Ditch Association - An earthen unlined ditch will
be replaced by a pipe. The resulting gain in efficiency will
add 454 ac-ft to stream flows.
Conservation Projects Benefiting the Odessa Subarea
Basin Irrigation Districts Coordinated Conservation Plan
-- Ecology provided $30,000 to the irrigation districts to
develop a strategy to coordinate and maximize water
conservation opportunities in each district.
Basin Irrigation District Piping – Districts conserve
approximately 2000 ac-ft of water by converting open canals
and ditches to a piped system.
Conservation Projects That May Yield Water for New Water
Conservation Commission Pilot Project – OCR provided $1
million the Washington State Conservation Commission to
build up to 3 on-farm conservation projects to evaluate
retiming of return flows for issuance of new permits.
Conservation District Irrigation Water Management – OCR
is providing funding to Franklin CD to develop a program to
capture water conserved through irrigation water management
practices. It is estimated that the methods studied could
yield as much as 394,400 ac-ft of water savings.
Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association Voluntary
Regional Agreement – CSRIA and OCR will fund three
conservation projects as a pilot to measure water savings.
If enough water is saved, new water rights will be issued
based on those savings and on any other mitigation water
that is acquired.
Farmland along the Columbia River near Entiat,
WA. (photo by: Wendy Valdez)
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.htm