News Release Archive

Banks Lake Draft Environmental Statement Released, Public Hearings Set

Media Contact: John Redding , (208) 378-5212
Jim Blanchard

For Release: January 07, 2003

The Bureau of Reclamation has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Banks Lake Drawdown and will accept oral comments during two public hearings.

The purpose of the draft document is to examine the environmental impacts of alternatives to lower the minimum surface elevation for Banks Lake in August from 1,565 feet to 1,560 feet.

The Action Alternative describes the resource conditions that would occur between Banks Lake surface elevations of 1,570 feet and 1,560 feet, while the No Action Alternative describes the conditions that would occur without the proposed action, between surface elevation 1,570 feet and 1,565 feet.

Both the No Action and Action Alternatives include four potential operational scenarios that could occur within their respective ranges. The Action Alternative includes a refill of the reservoir to elevation 1,565 feet, beginning September 1 and ending no later than September 10.

The Draft EIS is now available for a 60-day public review period. Written comments will be accepted until March 10, 2003. Two public hearings will be held to accept oral comments on the Draft EIS at the following locations and dates:

Coulee City: Date: February 11, 2003 Time: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Place: Coulee City Elementary School, 410 West Locust, Coulee City, Washington

Moses Lake: Date: February 12, 2003 Time: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Place: District 5 Fire Station Training Facility, 12801 Nelson Road, Moses Lake, Washington

Requests to make oral comments may be made at each hearing. Comments will be recorded by a court reporter. Speakers will be called in the order of their requests. In the interest of available time, each speaker will be asked to limit oral comments to five (5) minutes. Longer comments should be summarized at the public hearing and submitted in writing either at the public hearing or identified as hearing comments and sent to be received no later than March 10.

Written public hearing and written review comments should be submitted to Mr. Jim Blanchard, Special Projects Officer, Bureau of Reclamation, PO Box 815, Ephrata, WA 98823-0815; or by fax (509) 754-0239, or by email For information, telephone (509) 754-0226.

The public hearing facilities are physically accessible. For sign language interpretation for the hearing impaired or other auxiliary aids, please contact Mr. Blanchard, at (509) 754-0226 (relay users may dial 711) by January 31, so arrangements can be made.

The DEIS is available online. Copies are also available for public review and inspection at Reclamation offices and local area libraries.

A printed copy of the Draft EIS, a compact disk (CD-ROM with reader included) or a Summary of the Draft EIS may be obtained by contacting Jim Blanchard at (509) 754-0226.

BACKGROUND: Since its creation in the early 1950s, Banks Lake has been operated and maintained for the storage and delivery of irrigation water drawn from the Columbia River to Columbia Basin Project (CBP) lands. Reclamation operates the reservoir within established constraints on water surface elevation to met contractual obligations, ensure public safety, and protect property. Reclamation considers other resource needs as feasible within existing operational constraints.

In December of 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a Biological Opinion (BIOP) to the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Bonneville Power Administration for the operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System. The BIOP included a Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA), of which Action 31 advised Reclamation to assess the likely environmental effects of operation of Banks Lake up to 10 feet down from full pool during August.

Reclamation proposes to complete RPA Action 31 by preparing the Banks Lake Drawdown Draft Environmental Impact Statement to describe and analyze the environmental effects of lowering the August surface elevation of Banks Lake to elevation 1560 feet, which is 10 feet below full pool.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.