Reclamation Agreement to Provide Water for Fish and Honor Irrigation Contracts

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212
Jim Esget, (509) 575-5848 x267

For Release: March 14, 2003

After several years of negotiations, an agreement was reached between the Bureau of Reclamation and PacifiCorp of Portland, Oregon, that will offer increased flows for endangered fish while also ensuring irrigation rights for area farmers.

The $7.48 million purchase agreement is the first stage toward ownership of the Naches Hydroelectric Project located on the Wapatox Canal, adjacent to U.S. Highway 12. The agreement acquires the water right previously owned by PacifiCorp which operated the Naches and Naches Drop hydroelectric plants.

Reclamation will continue to honor irrigation contracts with the Wapatox Ditch Company, and Lower Wapatox Ditch Company which date back to the early 1900s.

"This effort involved the hard work of many people within Reclamation and PacifiCorp," said Jim Esget, Yakima River Basin water enhancement project manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. "Our objective throughout all our negotiations has been to provide a successful outcome for all parties, but ultimately to ensure that endangered fish would have a better chance of survival."

About 250,000 acre-feet will be left in the Naches River to improve habitat for migratory fish annually.

Ecology has also been an excellent partner in the project, said Esget. They are working to reimburse Reclamation $1 million toward the acquisition price.

The closure of the power facilities will help support Reclamation's Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Program. For the 2003 irrigation season a small portion of the canal water will be used to temporarily run the turbine generator in order to help dissipate the energy of the water in the canal as it returns to the river.

At the end of the season, PacifiCorp will remove the power transformers, making it impossible to generate at the Naches Project any longer," Esget said.

In the fall, Reclamation and PacifiCorp will enter into the second-stage of the agreement which will involve the sale of property and transfer of other associated assets. About that time, PacifiCorp will make modifications to the adjacent substation to move controls currently housed in the Naches Plant powerhouse into the switchyard.

PacifiCorp, which serves customers in the Yakima Valley as Pacific Power, will continue to serve Naches-area residences and business with electric service from the Naches substation. The company serves 1.5 million customers in six Western states as Pacific Power and Utah Power.

The Bureau of Reclamation, has as its mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.