Yakima River Basin Study to Move Forward in 2010

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212
Wendy Christensen, (509) 575-5848 ext. 203

For Release: December 30, 2009

The Bureau of Reclamation and Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) announced today that the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project Workgroup has reached consensus to move forward with a preliminary Integrated Water Resource Management Plan intended to address water supply and aquatic resource problems of the basin.

The Workgroup - comprised of state and federal agencies, county commissioners from the three Yakima Basin counties, the City of Yakima, the Yakama Nation, irrigation districts, fisheries managers, representation from the environmental organization American Rivers - has developed a preliminary outline for the integrated plan aimed at developing new water supplies, storage, and improving habitat and passage for fish in the Yakima River Basin.

The Workgroup narrowed down a list of potential actions for further evaluation and analysis before taking the consensus tally.

"While some of the elements included in the integrated plan document may not have unanimous support, Workgroup members do unanimously support further evaluation and analysis of the preliminary integrated plan," said Wendy Christensen, Reclamation Program Manager.

Christensen said the Workgroup will weigh-in on the final decision to support or oppose the preliminary integrated plan and its elements after effectiveness analyses of the package has been completed by Reclamation and Ecology.

The Yakima River Basin Study will be jointly conducted by Reclamation and Ecology, in collaboration with the Workgroup, under the U.S. Department of the Interior's Water Conservation Initiative Basin Study Program. The one-year comprehensive study seeks to further define future options for water supply development while improving conditions for anadromous fish. The Basin Study will also evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on water supplies and demands.

The Basin Study is cost-shared on a 50/50 basis between Reclamation and Ecology. It is anticipated that a final integrated plan will be developed and presented to the Workgroup for their consideration in the fall of 2010.

# # #

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 www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.