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.
Watch the Governor’s Press Statement here.
Read the Governor’s Policy brief here.