Natural Resources Committee Hearing Examines Need for New Water Storage
Washington state witness discusses Yakima River Basin
Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held an oversight hearing on increasing water storage and hydropower supplies. The hearing featured testimony from Derek Sandison, Director of the Office of Columbia River for the Washington State Department of Ecology. Congressman Doc Hastings (WA-04), who serves as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and witnesses discussed the growing need for and the multiple-use benefits of increased water storage and the importance of state, local and federal collaboration to the Yakima River Basin.
“In the Yakima River Basin alone, over 450,000 acre feet of additional water storage capacity is needed for multiple human and species needs. This is not some new discovery. Yakima has been in need of additional water storage for many decades, and achieving this goal is a top priority of mine,” said Chairman Hastings. “Conservation and construction of storage must go hand-in-hand. Real credit is owed to Mr. Sandison and the many local partners of all stripes who came to the Working Group table – and have stayed at the table – to seek a truly collaborative approach to solving Yakima’s water needs. Real, demonstrable progress has already been made and while it will take time, patience and creativity to achieve, building new storage is absolutely critical.”
Unfortunately, duplicative and burdensome environmental regulations have delayed critical water storage projects for years while environmental regulations, litigation and population growth strain current water storage infrastructure.
During today’s hearing, Mr. Sandison testified about how a collaborative regional approach and conservation alone cannot resolve water issues in central Washington and how new storage is also necessary. “The Office of the Columbia River and Reclamation determined based on an analysis of water supply needs that development of additional 450,000 acre feet of water storage capacity, in the form of modified and new surface storage facilities will be needed to provide drought relief to existing irrigators in the basin, secure water supplies for municipalities and adequate water for fish outmigration and pulse flows.”
Click here to read Mr. Sandison’s full testimony.