USDA earmarks $40 million for ground water diversion
Last updated 11/7/2023 at 11:55pm
OTHELLO – The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing $40 million in grants to three projects designed to divert Columbia River water into irrigation canals while curtailing the drawdown of Odessa aquifer groundwater.
The grants were announced Wednesday, Nov. 1, the same day the agency announced it plans to move ahead with an effort to supplant groundwater use with more water withdrawn from the Columbia River.
The grants include $19.7 million to complete a mainline extension for a lateral to withdraw enough river water to irrigate 7,138 acres.
A second $13.1 million grant will be used to extend the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District mainline system to supply 15,588 acre-feet of water to 10 farms. When complete, the extension will eliminate the use of 11 wells pumping water out of the Odessa aquifer.
A third, $7.2 million grant, will help pay for extending another mainline.
In addition to the three local projects, the USDA earmarked $17.8 million for Yakima River fish habitat improvements in upper Kittitas County near Ellensburg and $16.5 million to AgSpire Inc., a private company developing methods to reduce methane emissions from dairies.