Odessa Subarea Special Study; Adams, Franklin, Grant, Lincoln and Walla Walla Counties, WA
Pursuant to section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) proposes to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Odessa Subarea Special Study. The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is a joint lead with Reclamation in the preparation of this Environmental Impact Statement which will also be used to comply with requirements of the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The purpose of Reclamation's Odessa Subarea Special Study is to evaluate alternatives that would deliver project water from the Columbia Basin Project (CBP) to lands currently using groundwater for irrigation in the Odessa Ground Water Management Subarea. The Study is needed to fulfill the obligation Reclamation made in a Memorandum of Agreement between the State of Washington (State) and the Project irrigation districts in December 2004, which included cooperating on a study to explore opportunities for delivery of Columbia Basin Project water to existing groundwater-irrigated lands within the Odessa Subarea. Action is needed to avoid significant economic loss, in the near term, to the region's agricultural sector because of resource conditions associated with continued decline of the aquifers in the Odessa Subarea. Groundwater in the Odessa Subarea is currently being depleted to such an extent that water must be pumped from great depths. Pumping depths are 750 feet in some areas, and well depths are as great as 2,100-2,400 feet. Well drilling costs and pumping water from this depth have resulted in expensive power costs and water quality concerns such as high water temperatures and high sodium concentrations. The ability of farmers to irrigate their crops is at risk. Domestic, commercial, municipal, and industrial uses and water quality are also affected. Those irrigating with wells of lesser depth live with uncertainty about future well production. Washington State University conducted a regional economic impact study assessing the effects of lost potato production and processing in Adams, Franklin, Grant, and Lincoln counties from continued aquifer decline. Assuming that all potato production and processing is lost from the region, the analysis estimated the regional economic impact would be a loss of about $630 million dollars annually in regional sales, a loss of 3,600 jobs, and a loss of $211 million in regional income (Bhattacharjee and Holland 2005).