Scoping meetings set for proposed Washington reservoirs

The Bureau of Reclamation and Washington Department of Ecology will conduct public scoping meetings Jan. 23 for an environmental review of the feasibility of new water storage reservoirs in the Yakima River Basin.

BuRec and Washington Ecology previously found proposals for two Yakima River Basin reservoirs to be technically viable, but not necessarily cost-effective, based on a preliminary review. (HNN 12/7/06) In November 2006, the agencies announced they would move into the feasibility phase of a storage study focusing on a Black Rock Dam and reservoir and a Wymer Dam and reservoir. Both could include hydropower plants.

The Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study is to evaluate alternatives to augment storage for the basin. It also is to assess the potential to supply water for aquatic ecosystem habitat, dry-year irrigation by junior water rights holders, and future municipal needs.

BuRec and Washington Ecology intend to prepare a planning report and environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act. Comments made at the scoping meetings will be considered, as will written comments delivered through Jan. 31 to BuRec, Attention: David Kaumheimer, 1917 Marsh Road, Yakima, WA 98901-2058; Fax: (1) 509-454-5650. Two scoping meetings are planned: 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the Yakima Convention Center.

The agencies have narrowed their options to the two dams, plus a no-action alternative. The study, authorized by Congress in 2003, is to evaluate storage options to improve anadromous fish habitat, boost reliability of the 25-MW Yakima project’s water supply during dry years, and provide water to meet future municipal demand. The Yakima project has six storage reservoirs, five diversion dams, and 12-MW Chandler and 12.9-MW Roza power plants.

Other combinations of storage and pumping from the Columbia River to the Yakima River Basin might be identified during the scoping process, the agencies said in a notice published in the Federal Register.

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