Lewiston Orchards Project Pilot Water Exchange Project Proposed

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 383-2207
Julia Pierko, (208) 378-5215

For Release: July 18, 2013

BOISE, Idaho - The Bureau of Reclamation and the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District (LOID) are proposing to partner on a pilot water exchange project (pilot) to replace a portion of LOID's irrigation water supply to permanently resolve irrigation water issues and adverse impacts to endangered fish.

The proposed pilot project will focus on improving the quantity and quality of irrigation water as well as address impacts to endangered steelhead and their critical habitat, and the Nez Perce Tribe's natural resource and cultural uses.

In the pilot, a portion of the current surface water source would be exchanged for groundwater to be pumped from a new well proposed for construction in fall of 2013, with plans to be fully operational by 2016. This proposed water exchange would benefit endangered steelhead in Sweetwater, Webb, and Lapwai Creeks.

If the pilot succeeds, the full Lewiston Orchards Project (LOP) water exchange and title transfer project would be proposed. The full LOP water exchange concept involves incrementally exchanging the entire surface water irrigation source for a groundwater-pumped system consisting of multiple wells.

The full water exchange project could be constructed in phases. Each well could be connected to the LOP irrigation distribution system in exchange for relinquishment of an incremental amount of surface water for instream flow use. Once the full LOP surface water supply is exchanged, title transfer of LOP facilities could take place.

In 2012, Reclamation accepted the Lower Clearwater Exchange Project Appraisal Study Final Report. LOID proposed this appraisal study under Reclamation's Rural Water Supply Program on behalf of LOID, the Nez Perce Tribe, the City of Lewiston, Idaho, the County of Nez Perce, Idaho, and the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce to address these issues.

In the appraisal study, the deep Lewiston basin aquifer was identified as an alternative irrigation water supply source that warrants further study. For more information on the appraisal study, please go to http://www.loid.net/irrigation/lcep.html .

Reclamation will continue to honor the Terms and Conditions of the LOP Biological Opinion and to fulfill obligations associated with its water delivery contract with LOID throughout the proposed pilot and any future phases.

The LOP is a Reclamation project located near Lewiston, Idaho. It was originally constructed by private interests, beginning in 1906. The project was federalized in 1946, and since then, most of the project features have been rehabilitated or rebuilt by Reclamation. The project facilities include Reservoir A (Mann Lake), Soldiers Meadow Reservoir, and Lake Waha as storage reservoirs, four diversion structures, several feeder canals, and system linkage for distribution of irrigation water.

# # #

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.

Relevant Link: