Simpson shared the current implementation and construction status of the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Project (OGWRP) with conference attendees. The federally designated Columbia Basin Project (CBP) is the water source for thousands of farmers in Washington State. Decades ago, the Department of Ecology issued farmers in central Washington temporary permits to use groundwater to irrigate over 100,000 acres. This cropland irrigates the land that produces food shipped across the United States and internationally.
Groundwater has been declining in the Odessa Subarea for many years, putting the region at risk of losing this vitally important supply. Farmers who rely on water for their livelihoods and communities who depend on the aquifer for drinking water are at risk of losing this critical resource. This impacts the domestic, commercial, municipal, and industrial water supply for over 180,000 people and more than a dozen communities.
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.
Since 2004, the State of Washington has invested more than $126 million, and the Bureau of Reclamation more than $45 million, in the development and early implementation of the OGWRP. The East Columbia Basin Irrigation District has also sold $16.8 million of landowner-funded municipal bonds to fund the construction of OGWRP delivery facilities. The recently approved OGWRP Watershed Planning Project will build on these significant contributions.
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 the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP). The District provides a reliable supply of water that irrigates the cropland that produces food shipped domestically and internationally.