Yakima Herald-Republic: Yakima Basin water plan gets hearing

by David Lester

January 23, 2013

The result of three years of work on a plan to meet future water needs in the Yakima River Basin got its first public airing Tuesday before one group that can help make it happen: the Legislature.

Some of the participants who did the work urged the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in Olympia to approve a bill that would authorize the state Department of Ecology to begin implementing what is called the integrated water resources management plan. The ambitious plan involves a mix of new storage, fish passage, water conservation, land preservation, water banking, aquifer storage, and operational changes to make better use of existing water in the three-county basin.

Each of the plan’s components would need individual environmental review to be authorized.

Yet to come before lawmakers is a separate request by Gov. Jay Inslee for bonding authority in the state capital budget to raise more than $20 million as a down payment on the overall plan. The overall cost could be as much as $5 billion and will be sought from the state, local sources and the federal government.

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