Lewiston Orchards Project Water Exchange & Title Transfer

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The Bureau of Reclamation’s Lewiston Orchards Project is located near Lewiston, Idaho which provides irrigation water to approximately 18,000 patrons within the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District service area. Many features of the Lewiston Orchards Project are located in the Lapwai Creek watershed and within the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation boundary. Project operations impact Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed steelhead and Tribal cultural and natural resources which have resulted in ongoing litigation. The Lewiston Orchards Project also faces additional challenges related to water supply reliability.

To address these challenges, Reclamation, the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are engaged in a collaborative effort to identify potential alternatives to address Lewiston Orchards Project system issues.

In February 2017 Reclamation prepared a Finding of No Significant Impact and Final Environmental Assessment that analyzed three alternatives for a water exchange and title transfer. This effort is intended to benefit Snake River steelhead, protect natural and cultural resources important to the Nez Perce Tribe, and provide a reliable water supply for the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District patrons. Reclamation selected the proposed action for implementation.

Reclamation’s proposed action is to construct multiple groundwater wells to provide the Lewiston Orchards Project with an alternative water supply that will replace the current surface water diversions from land adjacent to and within the Nez Perce Reservation. It also includes the transfer of title of Lewiston Orchards Project facilities and assets once the existing surface water supply is exchanged with the groundwater source. Some facilities and assets would be transferred from Reclamation to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be held in trust for the Nez Perce Tribe and the remainder would be transferred to the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District.

Construction of a pilot well to test groundwater reliability was completed in 2016 and made available for operation in the 2017 irrigation season. Construction of additional groundwater wells is scheduled for 2017 through 2022 or as funding becomes available.

Documents
07/2017 Endangered Species Act Section 7(a)(2) Biological Opinion & Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Essential Fish Habitat Response Lewiston Orchards Project Water Exchange & Title Transfer PDF 1.16 mb
02/2017 Lewiston Orchards Project Water Exchange & Title Transfer Project Finding of No Significant Impact PDF 38.08 mb

Contact

Jim Taylor
Supervisory Environmental Protection Specialist
jbtaylor@usbr.gov

Bureau of Reclamation
Snake River Area Office
230 Collins Road
Boise, Idaho 83702

Megan McKay
Project Manager
mnmckay@usbr.gov

Bureau of Reclamation
Snake River Area Office
230 Collins Road
Boise, Idaho 83702


Last Update: 10/30/18