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Pacific Northwest Region
Boise, Idaho
Media Contact:
John Redding
(208) 378-5212
Chuck Carnohan
(509) 575-5848 ext. 370

Released On: October 26, 2010

Reclamation and Ecology to Release Odessa Subarea Special Study Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Bureau of Reclamation and the Washington State Department of Ecology's Office of Columbia River have completed the Odessa Subarea Special Study Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS), which is being released to the public in anticipation of its formal filing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on October 26, 2010.

This Study examines the feasibility, acceptability, and environmental consequences of alternatives to replace groundwater currently used for irrigation on approximately 102,600 acres in the Odessa Ground Water Management Subarea with Columbia Basin Project surface water. A No Action Alternative, four partial-replacement alternatives, and four full-replacement alternatives are evaluated. The Draft EIS lists four specific needs:

  • Declining groundwater supply for agriculture and other uses in the Study Area
  • Possible significant economic loss to the region's agricultural sector because of continued decline of groundwater supply
  • Environmental concerns and interests, including Columbia River seasonal flow objectives for salmon, steelhead, and habitats of importance to other sensitive species
  • Commitment by Reclamation, Ecology, and Columbia Basin Project (CBP) irrigation districts to cooperatively conduct the Study.

The purpose of the study is to address issues related to the declining aquifer in the Odessa Subarea that impact the ability of farmers to irrigate their crops, as well as domestic, commercial, municipal, and industrial water uses. Ecology and Reclamation are the co-leads in this jointly funded effort.

"Addressing the problem of declining ground water levels in the Odessa subarea is of tremendous importance to the region and to the State of Washington as a whole. We need to move the process of finding solutions to this problem forward as rapidly as possible to provide people in the region some certainty about their economic future," said Derek Sandison, Director of Ecology's Office of the Columbia River.

"As Reclamation and Ecology move forward in this effort, we are committed to hearing the views of the public and looking for long-range solutions to irrigation water needs in the Odessa Subarea," said Bill Gray, Reclamation's Columbia-Cascades Area Manager.

The public review and comment period is scheduled to run until December 31, 2010. Comments may be submitted orally, electronically, or by regular mail and all comments will be considered and responded to in the Final EIS.

Oral comments may be presented at one of two open house public hearings. The hearings will be from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. on the dates and locations listed below:

November 17
Coulee Dam Town Hall
300 Lincoln Avenue
Coulee Dam WA  99116

November 18
Grant County Advanced Technologies Center (ATEC) Building 1800
Big Bend Community College
7611 Bolling Street NE
Moses Lake WA 98837

Questions about the Study can be addressed to Mr. Chuck Carnohan at (509) 575-5848, extension 603; Fax: (509) 454-5650 (TTY users may dial 711 to obtain a toll-free TTY relay); or, by email to odessa@usbr.gov.

Copies of the document have been mailed to parties who have requested one, as well as area Tribes and appropriate local, State, and Federal government agencies. In addition, Reclamation and Ecology offices and local libraries will have copies available for viewing. Copies of the report are available by phoning (509) 575-5848, ext. 603, or it can be viewed online at http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/ucao_misc/odessa/index.html.

The public hearing facilities are physically accessible to persons with disabilities. Requests for special assistance should be made by November 3 to Mr. Chuck Carnohan at the contact information above.

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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 www.usbr.gov.