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circular logo used by the East Columbia Basin Irrigation district with a canal full of water underneath a sun

The East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) Development Coordinator gave a presentation during the sixth-annual Water Law in Central Washington conference.

The event was held September 21-22, 2023, at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

Jon Erickson presented on the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP) and the Small Watershed Plan Project, known as the PL-566. The project officially launched in late 2022 with an allocation of federal funding through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to the District to develop a watershed plan that will assist in obtaining future funding for the design and construction of the OGWRP’s remaining large infrastructure projects. ECBID has partnered with the Columbia Basin Conservation District (CBCD) to facilitate the watershed plan.

OGWRP is a regional effort to implement the Odessa Subarea Special Study FEIS (2012), which is building the necessary infrastructure for farmers to exchange valid, state-issued Odessa groundwater rights for Columbia Basin Project water.

The conference was organized by Confluence Law PLLC, and featured a series of presentations that discussed the law of water rights in the State of Washington. The seminar provided information of interest to water right holders, water purveyors, conservancy board members, developers, and advocates in the state. It included a comprehensive overview and update on water rights law, updates from regulators, and an examination of some of the most recent trends and practices.

“I was honored to present at this conference, which drew attendees from across the state. The OGWRP represents a large-scale collaborative effort to rescue an aquifer from decline by finding an alternative Columbia Basin Project water supply for existing withdrawals. I was pleased to share our successes and process with the attendees,” explained Jon Erickson, Development Coordinator for the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District.

Located in central Washington State, the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District is the largest district in the state, with authorization to irrigate 472,000 acres. Currently, 169,000 acres are developed and managed by 4,500 landowners within the federal Columbia Basin Project. Additionally, the District is involved in the development of 87,000 acres associated with OGWRP. The District provides a reliable supply of water that irrigates the cropland that produces food shipped domestically and internationally.
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