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circular logo used by the East Columbia Basin Irrigation district with a canal full of water underneath a sun
United States Senator Maria Cantwell and her staff met with stakeholder groups and toured the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP) project last week. The meeting was held in the Moses Lake City Council Chambers on October 24 and was coordinated by the Columbia Basin Development League (CBDL).
Stakeholders from the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID), U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Ecology-Office of the Columbia River, the Columbia Basin Conservation District, the Columbia Basin Sustainable Water Coalition, Adams County, the Washington State Potato Commission, and the Port of Warden joined staff and members of the CBDL Board of Trustees to share progress to date regarding the Odessa Aquifer rescue mission, and identify next steps and innovative solutions to outline needs to transition deep well irrigators off of the rapidly declining aquifer.

After the hour-long meeting, the Senator joined stakeholders for a tour of ECBID’s 47.5 pumping plant, which began operating in 2021, and visited OGWRP improvements along the canal system.

The Columbia Basin Project (CBP) is the water source for thousands of farmers and some municipalities and industrial stakeholders. While waiting for continued development of the CBP, decades ago, the Department of Ecology issued farmers temporary permits to use ground water to irrigate over 100,000 acres. The non-renewable Odessa aquifer declined and now threatens water availability for over 180,000 people and over a dozen rural communities including Lind, Odessa, Connell, Othello, Warden, Hatton, Wilson Creek, Moses Lake, and others. Multiple partners are working together to rescue the declining aquifer and preserve it for environmental and domestic water supply purposes.
“We are grateful for Senator Cantwell’s on-going support of this critical issue. Not only is it important to the landowners and communities in our district, but it’s important to ensure continued crop production and food supply” explained District Secretary- Manager Craig Simpson.
CBDL Board Chair, Matt Harris, observed “The group that met with the Senator was able to demonstrate the wide-spread importance of this project. The threat of the declining aquifer impacts an entire region and beyond. OGWRP presents a comprehensive solution that addresses critical needs ranging from a local level to national food supply.”

Since 1964, the Columbia Basin Development League has supported the Bureau of Reclamation’s Columbia Basin Project and its future development. The League is working toward a fully developed Columbia Basin Project that supports a robust regional and state economy and quality of life through efficient, well-maintained, affordable infrastructure and sustainable environmental stewardship.

Located in central Washington State, the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District is the largest district in the state, serving 472,000 acres when the Columbia Basin Project is completed. 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 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.
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