By Mike Johnston
February 27, 2013
A $45 million funding request to the state Legislature would make more water available to the Yakima River basin and improve fish runs, wildlife habitat, the environment and recreation at the same time, according to supporters who spoke in favor of the funding proposal in Olympia last week.
The bill would kick off work on a list of important projects that are part of the estimated $5 billion, 20-year Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Program’s Integrated Water Resource Management Plan.
About $10.5 million of the $45 million is earmarked for a down payment for state government to buy 46,000 acres of Teanaway River basin lands northeast of Cle Elum.
The remainder is for necessary work to get on-the-ground water projects shovel ready, said Urban Eberhart, a member of the water plan’s implementation committee. (See list of projects on Page A8).
“Having this state funding support upfront is absolutely critical for a number of important reasons,” said Eberhart, a Kittitas Valley farmer, tree-fruit grower and Kittitas Reclamation District board member.