by David Lester
October 30, 2012
A public investment of billions of dollars to restore Yakima River Basin fish and assure a more stable supply of water for farms and communities would more than pay for itself, according to a new report issued by the federal Bureau of Reclamation.
The lengthy report issued last week concludes the return on the investment could be as much as three times the cost, based on a variety of assumptions.
Although couched in those assumptions, supporters say the report strengthens the campaign for federal and state dollars for a multi-year project to add new storage, improve fish passage, preserve sensitive habitat, and supply water for municipal, industrial and domestic uses, among its many elements.
Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita said the positive cost-benefit ratio provides an opportunity missing in prior efforts to expand water storage and resolve water conflicts in the three-county basin.
“That door is now opening. It is of major significance,” Leita said. “Everything in this plan is
connected. At some point in time all these components must and need to be completed.”