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Boise, Idaho
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John Redding
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Joye Redfield-Wilder
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Released On: August 31, 2012

Reclamation and Ecology to Release Odessa Subarea Special Study Final Environmental Impact Statement
YAKIMA, Wash. - The Bureau of Reclamation and the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) have completed the Odessa Subarea Special Study Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which is being released in anticipation of its formal filing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Aug. 31.

The study that began in 2005 identifies alternatives to address the declining aquifer and avoid economic losses in the study area by replacing groundwater currently used for irrigation with surface water to lands within the Columbia Basin Project (CBP) by constructing or modifying distribution systems and associated facilities.

The FEIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). It examines the environmental consequences of alternatives designed to deliver surface water to existing groundwater-irrigated lands in that portion of the Odessa Subarea Ground Water Management Area located within CBP boundaries. The alternatives evaluated fall within three categories:

  • Partial-replacement (replacing approximately 57,000 acres of currently groundwater-irrigated lands)
  • Full-replacement (replaces approximately 102,600 acres)
  • Modified partial-replacement (70,000 acres)

Reclamation and Ecology have identified a preferred alternative that would serve lands both north and south of Interstate-90 by enlarging the East Low Canal and developing a distribution system to deliver water from the canal to farmlands. The water supply for the alternative would come from the Columbia River by way of Banks Lake.

“Ecology and Reclamation believe that the modified partial replacement alternative provides the best opportunity to meet our legislative directive to achieve meaningful resolution of the declining aquifer problem,” Director of the Washington Office of the Columbia River Derek Sandison said. “This alternative maximizes use of existing infrastructure and minimizes overall project costs.”

“This is an important milestone in the Odessa Subarea Special Study,” Columbia-Cascades Area Manager Jerry Kelso said. “Reclamation looks forward in continuing its partnership with Ecology and moving forward to find solutions to these complex water resource issues.”

The NEPA process concludes with a Record of Decision (ROD) which may be issued by Reclamation 30 days after the Final EIS is published in the Federal Register. The ROD documents Reclamation’s decision on the proposed action and describes the rationale used in making the decision.

Copies of the document have been mailed to those who have requested one, as well as area Tribes and appropriate local, state, and federal agencies. In addition, copies are available at Reclamation and Ecology offices. Individual copies of the report may be obtained by calling (509) 575-5848, ext. 203, or simply by going online at: http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/odessa/index.html.

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