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Bureau of Reclamation in Washington

The centerpiece of the Columbia Basin Project is Grand Coulee Dam which, in addition to providing storage water for irrigation, is one of the world's largest hydroelectric powerplants. Grand Coulee Dam also provides flood control, recreation, and benefits for fish and wildlife.

All other activities in Washington are administered through the Columbia-Cascades Area Office.

Columbia-Cascades Area Office
1917 Marsh Road
Yakima, WA 98901-2058
(509) 575-5848

Grand Coulee Power Office
PO Box 620
Grand Coulee, WA 99133-0620
(509) 633-1360

Although Washington has abundant annual precipitation compared to the rest of the Western states, most of it occurs during the winter. During these months, water is in less demand than in the summer growing season, when rainfall is infrequent east of the Cascade Range.

Summertime water shortages and winter floods have plagued Washingtonians since the first settlers arrived in the Columbia River Basin in the early 1840s. To combat the dry growing season conditions, settlers employed primitive irrigation techniques to bring water to thirsty croplands. Because these techniques resulted in lowering the river levels, the diversion facilities could no longer be used, leaving Washington settlers with the same water shortage.

Following the creation of the Reclamation Service in 1902, construction began on Washington's first Reclamation constructed irrigation project. The Okanagan Project, begun in 1905, brought water to thousands of acres of croplands.

In 1935, construction began on Grand Coulee Dam, the first feature of the Columbia Basin Project to utilize the irrigation and hydropower potential of the Columbia River. Other projects developed by Reclamation, notably in the Yakima Valley, contributed to modern-day Washington's reputation as the "fruitbowl of the nation.

Related Links

Washington Projects and Facilities
Banks Lake Resource Management Plan
Potholes RMP


Last Update: December 3, 2013 3:28 PM