Even before the pandemic, many lawmakers and the Trump Administration, pushed to make upgrades and improvement to infrastructure nationwide. One area of growing interest in D.C. is water infrastructure. There is growing hope that interest will translate into dollars here in the Northwest, specifically to finish the Columbia Basin Project, removing farmers from the declining Odessa underground aquifer.
The Columbia Basin Development League’s Vicky Scharlau said when funding is discussed in legislation, those projects are expected to be shovel ready, which has a very specific definition for the Bureau of Reclamation.
“It really is to the point where you can start work, not that you have to go through and additional environmental reviews, not that you have to do any additional state reviews, all of that’s been completed, and that you have a project that’s ready for funding. Luckily we have such as project.”
The Columbia Basin Project is roughly 70 years old, and while its not complete, Scharlau says its not from a lack of trying. She’s noted state departments, Washington’s congressional delegation have all worked hard for decades to get the needed funding to complete the project. Sharlau said not only does this project get promised surface water to farmers, but more importantly it gets those farmers off the Odessa Aquifer, which is vital to the overall health and strength of the Columbia Basin.
“It’s nearly 200,000 people, and over a dozen, maybe two dozen small communities, that really represent the fiber and the structure of the Columbia Basin and agriculture and farm communities as we know them.”
While expensive, costing an estimated $250 million to wrap up work on seven lateral canals, Scharlau says it will have a great economic and environmental impact to Central Washington.
Click Here to learn more about the Columbia Basin Project.
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