After President Biden’s recent announcement of his over $2T infrastructure improvement plan, there’s growing hope in the farming world that water infrastructure will be addressed. That includes not only water transport, but also irrigation water which is so vital here in the west. Sara Higgins with the Columbia Basin Development League said outside of some funding in 2009, the 100 year old Columbia Basin Irrigation Projects has not received needed funding to keep up with normal maintenance, let alone scheduled growth and expansion.
While the lack of funding for years is frustrating, Higgins said she is encouraged. She noted they are very fortunate that members of the Washington delegation serve on or chair key committees that can help in in needed infrastructure improvements.
“They have repeatedly said there is something out there that is in the works and they want to hear from us….But, then on the larger, broader scale I think the fact that they are now starting to ask us is an indication of an awareness that’s out there that something really needs to be done.”
The top priorities for the CBDL current include $126 million for the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program as well as $11 million for upgrades and repairs to the Columbia Basin Project. Higgins added while they have specific projects they’d like address, she acknowledged there are other pressing projects across the state and across the west. She said the only way needed infrastructure improvements will take place is there is regional cooperation.
“I just want to acknowledge too that the Columbia Basin Development League is working with our partners in Washington state including the Washington state Water Resources Association, and the Yakima Joint Board to identify not just needs in Columbia Basin project but again, needs overall in Washington state.”
If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected]