Archive for January, 2013

Jan30

Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial: Inslee takes important step toward Valley’s economic future

EDITORIAL

January 29, 2013

Almost 20 years ago, as a congressman representing Central Washington’s 4th District, Jay Inslee successfully sponsored a key step in the effort to improve water supplies in the Yakima Valley. The bill that Congress passed in 1994 led to conservation measures for irrigation canals that included metering and enclosing ditches with pipes.

The process since then has gained scope and momentum as agricultural interests; irrigation districts; local, state, federal and tribal governments; and several environmental groups negotiate the $5 billion Yakima Basin Enhancement Project. The project is a compromise that would enable new storage and enhance conservation and fish passage. Inslee last week took an important practical and symbolic step by making the project his first piece of proposed legislation as governor.

Inslee’s request bill directs the state Department of Ecology to move forward on the basin enhancement plan, which includes additional reservoir storage at Bumping Lake on Chinook Pass and Wymer in the Yakima River Canyon. Other aspects of the plan include fish ladders, other conservation efforts at existing dams and the purchase of private land to improve fish runs and protect the watershed. Legislators in both houses have introduced bills with bipartisan support, and Inslee said he will carry over a request from former Gov. Chris Gregoire to seek $20 million in bond proceeds to finance storage projects.

Continue reading the story.

Jan30

KNDO: Farmers Praise Governor Inslee’s Basin Water Plan

By Laura Murray, Reporter

January 29, 2013

NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

YAKIMA, Wash.– A group of 15 farmers from the Yakima Valley made their way to Olympia to speak directly to the governor himself.

“He asked me about the needs for the water, and I tell him well if we don’t have water we don’t have nothing,” said Evaristo Silva, a farmer in the Tieton area.

Governor Jay Inslee’s first piece of legislation addresses Silva’s concerns by expanding the Yakima River Basin to strengthen water resources. Farmers in the valley said the Basin Water Resource Management Plan is the only way to secure their future.

“To have good water, clean water and enough water because for many people this is a problem,” said Silva. “They don’t have enough water to irrigate all they wanted.”

“Well how can you meet the future needs if you can’t even meet the needs right now, and our farmers come up short during drought years that means that their crops are threatened, that means the economy is threatened, and we have an agricultural based economy,” said Joye Redfield-Wilder from the Department of Ecology.

The plan seeks around $5 billion in federal, state and local funds. This money will go towards projects like adding reservoir storage at Bumping Lake and restoring fish habitat.

“Taxpayers are putting money up front, but it would be in a cost reimbursement sort of way, just like when you pay your water bill,” said Redfield-Wilder. “It would be similar to that.”

Currently Governor Inslee is asking the legislature for $20 million to start some early action projects.

Even though there seems to be widespread support for the bill, there is still opposition.

Some people express concerns about flooding pristine lands, but each project will be up for additional review before any action takes place.

Jan30

Ellensburg Daily Record: Plan impacts must be offset

By Mike Johnston

January 26, 2013

Kittitas County Commissioner Paul Jewell believes county government is asking for reasonable compensation to offset the impact of rural lands becoming publicly owned in Upper County and in the Yakima River Canyon southeast of Ellensburg.

The landownership changes, along with other land-use proposals in the Yakima River basin, will increase long-term costs to county government and increase landowners’ tax burden, Jewell said earlier this week.

These can be made up for in a variety of ways, Jewell said.

“What we are asking for is realistic and, frankly, very conservative,” Jewell told a basinwide committee. “We know there will be criticisms to what we want, but we have a responsibility to the citizens of Kittitas County.”

Purchasing private land

The purchase of 71,000 acres of privately owned shrub-steppe and forested lands, mostly in Kittitas County, is part of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan. Its goal is to lessen for years to come the impact of droughts in the three-county basin that already has more demands put upon it for water than the amount it annually produces.

The plan is a 20-year, $5 billion government-funded effort to increase basin water supplies for fish runs, wildlife habitat, irrigation and domestic uses, along with improving fish passage.

The future purchase of the lands is aimed at protecting the ecosystem of the Yakima River system’s water shed from development and to enhance its natural features to preserve the quantity and quality of water supplies.

The purchases of privately held lands in the Yakima Canyon, areas in the headwaters of Manastash Creek, Taneum Creek and the Little Naches River and high elevation portions of the Teanaway River Basin also are to offset the impact of enlarging a Cascade mountain reservoir and building a new one in the Yakima Canyon.

Continue reading the story.

Jan29

Crosscut: Inslee focuses on Yakima irrigation project

By John Stang

January 24, 2013

Gov. Jay Inslee put his first bill into motion Thursday, which will try to boost the water supply to the Yakima River Basin.

“This is just the start of our agricultural jobs plan,” Inslee said.

Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, introduced the bipartisan bill Thursday at Inslee’s request. Inslee linked the bill to his interest in climate change, saying it will help deal with shrinking Cascade Mountains snow packs.

Some environmental organizations have concerns about Yakima river irrigation expansion plans but a number of major green groups support it.

The bill calls for allocating $23.6 million from the state’s capital budget for several projects at the headwaters of the Yakima River just west of Cle Elum. Inslee claimed the projects will create 316 jobs.

Continue reading this story.

Jan29

Governor Inslee’s First Legislative Action – Yakima Water, Jobs and Fish Bill

Inslee wastes no time in pushing for ag water bill

by David Lester – Yakima Herald Republic

Gov. Jay Inslee launched his administration’s first piece of legislation Thursday, tying in his campaign promise to emphasize job growth with a plan to solidify water resources and environmental protection in the Yakima River Basin.

The governor’s request bill, introduced in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis, directs the Department of Ecology to implement the ambitious basin water resource management plan. The plan seeks as much as $5 billion in federal, state and local funds to add storage, restore fish runs, conserve water and improve environmental protection.

Inslee, during a news conference at his Olympia office, called the measure a “sweet spot” in his jobs agenda.

“This is a very concrete and specific proposal to bolster the foundation of the agricultural economy in Central Washington and this is a huge part of our economy,” Inslee said. “Agriculture depends on water, and water depends on this bill’s ultimate passage.”

The measure is the same one on which the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee conducted a hearing earlier this week. This new bill is different only in that it is labeled a governor’s request bill. Inslee called it his “Water, Jobs and Fish” bill.

The bill authorizes the Ecology Department to move forward on the basin water resource management plan, which includes additional reservoir storage at Bumping Lake and at Wymer in the Yakima River Canyon, fish ladders at all five basin storage dams, improved fish habitat, more water conservation, and purchase of private land to improve fish runs and protect the watershed that supplies irrigation water in the three-county basin.

Continue reading the story.

Watch the Governor’s Press Statement here.

Read the Governor’s Policy brief here.

Fish. Families. Farms.
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