Serving Franklin County, WA

Water-right bill signed into law

Measure will go into effect on June 6

OLYMPIA - Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill into law to allow for water right modifications in the Columbia Basin Project area.

Authored by Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, House Bill 1752 authorizes the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to apply and obtain approval for water-right modifications and provides farmers flexibility as new pumping systems are developed to save the Odessa Aquifer.

The new law goes into effect June 6.

According to Dye, efficient use of federal water would assist in getting the most value from large public irrigation systems under construction by allowing more acres to be served without impacting the watershed.

"We water very differently today than when water rights were first issued to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Columbia Basin Project," Dye said. "We use technology to be very precise in the use of water resources so that not one drop of water is wasted.

"This bill brings our water law in alignment with the current technology that is saving millions of gallons of water. It also allows the infrastructure we are building within the project to be used with maximum efficiency so none of the land that could be irrigated is wasted."

Dye represents the 9th Legislative District, which includes eastern Adams and Franklin, southern Spokane, Whitman and other counties.

The bill corrects a provision in the law that required an annual consumptive-use calculation that was not intended for the federal water rights in the Columbia Basin. The measure clarifies that water from the Columbia Basin project may be used to irrigate additional acres.

Dye notes substantial improvements in irrigation efficiency over the last 75 years have saved enough water that acres could be added to improve the efficient use of the irrigation canals and pipelines delivering Columbia Basin water to Grant, Adams and Franklin Counties.

"This is not your grandfather's irrigation system," Dye said. "Geo-positioning satellites and soil sensors can show us where our water use is going so that we can dial that in and be very precise with our water applications. Producers use pipelines, high-tech circle pivots and drip irrigation to prevent water loss."

The federal government is also requiring broadband fiber to be installed in all pipeline systems to improve producers' access to their on-farm systems with apps on their cell phones.

"This gives us the ability to communicate with our circle pivots through our cell phones," she said. "We're creating a system where the water goes specifically for the plant's use and to feed a hungry world with the most efficient use of precious water."

According to Dye, crops grown within the Columbia Basin Project produce the equivalent of the annual groceries purchased by nearly 9 million Americans.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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