Reclamation Signs Memorandum of Agreement for Lewiston Orchards Pilot Water Exchange Project

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

For Release: September 05, 2013

LEWISTON, Idaho - The Bureau of Reclamation signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District (LOID) to jointly fund the design and construction of the Lewiston Orchards Pilot Water Exchange Project.

The project involves the construction of a groundwater well to provide LOID with an alternative water supply other than surface water withdrawals on land adjacent to the Nez Perce Reservation which has an adverse impact to threatened Snake River steelhead. Protection of the species will also protect one of many important cultural resources for the Nez Perce Tribe.

The expected flow from the well is 2 to 4 cubic feet per second (cfs), which is roughly equal to 1,000-2,000 gallons per minute. Reclamation and LOID will operate the water exchange project in accordance with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Lewiston Orchards Project 2010 Biological Opinion.

"As groundwater is pumped into the district’s irrigation distribution system, it will be exchanged almost bucket for bucket for Craig Mountain surface water, leaving equal amounts of water in the streams for threatened steelhead," said Jerrold Gregg, Reclamation’s Snake River Area Office Manager. “This project is possible because of our partnership with LOID’s board of directors and the Lower Clearwater Exchange Project stakeholders group.”

The well may be as much as 1,800 feet deep and located near the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport. Facilities will be constructed in phases starting around November 2013 and completed around summer of 2016.

“This is a great opportunity to work within the directives of the Biological Opinion while also continuing our partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation. Through this partnership we are able to take positive steps toward finding a solution that does not break the pocketbooks of the patrons, and we are thankful,” said Barney Metz, LOID Manager.

Total estimated cost for the project is just over $5 million. LOID’s cost-share contribution will be 47 percent, and Reclamation will cover 53 percent of the cost.

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