Dozens more storage pools will be released in 2012
The Washington Department of Ecology has approved the first water rights for municipal, domestic and industrial purposes from the Lake Roosevelt storage pool behind Grand Coulee Dam under the state’s Columbia River water development program; dozens more are being prepared for release in 2012.
The city of Pateros, Wash., will receive 40 acre/ft of additional water per year to use for parks that will free up other city water rights and allow for new hookups supporting up to 80 new homes.
The Pateros water permit is just the first of a dozen new water rights to be issued this month by the department's Office of Columbia River (OCR). Totaling some 200 acre/ft of water, the permits are cued up to support housing developments in Lincoln County, a recreational park near the Beebe Bridge in Douglas County and a potato washing facility in Walla Walla County.
In total, the Lake Roosevelt incremental storage release program is making 25,000 acre/ft of water available for new municipal and industrial uses. Permits for the balance of water to be issued next year will benefit cities like Bridgeport, Pasco, Kennewick, Richland and West Richland in Washington, industrial users like Mercer Canyons, and small housing developments along the Columbia River.
The Lake Roosevelt permits are the first non-interruptible water rights to be issued on the Columbia River since salmon species were listed as endangered two decades ago. Attempts to issue water rights were stymied in legal battles until the passage of a compromise bill that provided funding for new water projects in eastern Washington.