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SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – (November 1, 2023) – The Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is adopting the Bureau of Reclamation’s (Reclamation) 2012 Odessa Subarea Special Study Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) produced in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).

With the NRCS adoption of the FEIS and issuance of a Record of Decision (ROD) that concurs
with Reclamation’s selected alternative, East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) — in
partnership with Reclamation, Ecology, and NRCS — will streamline the development of a
Watershed Plan under the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program authorized by
Public Law 83-566 by utilizing the FEIS environmental compliance document already produced.
With an Authorized Watershed Plan, ECBID will be eligible to pursue NRCS federal funding to
support the phased implementation of the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program.

Located in Central Washington, ECBID is the largest irrigation 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 (CBP). The FEIS analyzed the
potential to replace groundwater irrigation on up to 102,600 acres of land in the Odessa Subarea
with surface water from the CBP.

The Odessa Subarea aquifer is experiencing significant declines in groundwater levels.
Domestic, commercial, municipal, and industrial uses, as well as water quality, are also affected.
Many of the groundwater wells in the area are currently drilled to a depth of 800 to 1,000 feet,
with some as deep as 2,100 feet. Some wells in the area have been reported out of production.
Drilling deeper wells is not feasible because deeper water may not be available, may be
potentially unusable, or may be too expensive to access. As a result of this decline, the ability of
producers to irrigate their crops is at risk.

The FEIS and Reclamation’s Amended ROD identified Alternative 4A: Partial Modified-
Replacement-Banks with Limited Spring Diversion Scenario as the selected alternative. Under

this alternative, groundwater irrigation on 70,000 acres of land in the Odessa Subarea would be
replaced in a one-to-one replacement with CBP water of which 164,000 acre-feet would be new
Columbia River diversions. Since Reclamation published the FEIS in 2012, the Odessa
Groundwater Replacement Program, a consortium of local, state, and federal partners, has
worked towards phased implementation of Alternative 4A.

NRCS invites agencies and individuals who have special expertise, legal jurisdiction, or interest
in the NRCS adoption of the FEIS for the Odessa Subarea Special Study to participate and

The adoption of the FEIS and development of the Watershed Plan under Public Law 83-566 is
sponsored by ECBID with funding and technical support from NRCS. Columbia Basin
Conservation District, Farmers Conservation Alliance, and Parametrix are assisting ECBID and
NRCS with the planning process.

NRCS’s Notice of Intent to adopt the FEIS is available online at https://www.ogwrp-
programs.org/watershed-plan and at the NRCS website: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/conservation-basics/conservation-by-state/washington/nrcs-washington-public-notices. The U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency has published a Notice of Availability for the FEIS
redistribution and public review in the Federal Register online at

Public comments may be submitted until 30 days after the Notice of Availability is
published in the Federal Register, which is estimated to be on December 8. Comments may

be emailed to comments@ogwrp-programs.org, submitted online at https://www.ogwrp-programs.org/watershed-plan, submitted via phone at (541) 716-6085, or mailed to Farmers

Conservation Alliance, 102 State Street, Hood River, OR 97031.

NRCS will review public, agency, and tribal comments in accordance with National
Environmental Compliance Handbook Section 610.83. If a supplemental environmental
compliance document is not required, NRCS will issue a ROD after the required 30-day
comment period. The ROD will address comments made during the comment period and will be
publicly available. Should NRCS decide that a new or supplemental environmental compliance
document is warranted, NRCS will issue further public notice as appropriate.

Additional information is available online at https://www.ogwrp-programs.org/watershed-plan or

the NRCS Washington public notice webpage at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/conservation-basics/conservation-by-state/washington/nrcs-washington-public-notices

Encontrará más información en línea en https://www.ogwrp-programs.org/watershed-plan o en la
página web de avisos públicos del NRCS de Washington en https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/conservation-basics/conservation-by-state/washington/nrcs-washington-public-notices

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Contact: Jules Riley, NRCS
Water Resources Planning Specialist
Email: Jules.Riley@usda.gov
Phone: (509) 323-2941

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