Work set to start on Odessa aquifer replacement pipeline

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald The East Low Canal northwest of Moses Lake.

MOSES LAKE — Work is set to get under way on a nearly 9-mile long pipeline that will help deliver on the decades-old promise of Columbia River Water for farmers east of Moses Lake.

The EL 22.1 Pipeline will stretch from the East Low Canal where it passes under Road 8 Northeast — near the intersection of Road 8 and Road N Northeast — and parallel Road 8 until Road W Southeast, where it is expected to end.

When finished, the pipeline will deliver Columbia River water to roughly 16,000 acres that are currently irrigated by the rapidly diminishing Odessa Aquifer.

The $15 million pipeline project is part of the Odessa Aquifer Groundwater Replacement Project and was included in this year’s state capital budget, part of an overall $40 million that was appropriated this year to bring Columbia River water to farmers in the eastern portion of the Columbia Basin Project.

A major eastern canal was promised to farmers in the eastern portion of the Columbia Basin Project but was never constructed. So, beginning in the 1960s, farmers began pumping water from the Odessa Aquifer to irrigate farmland, drawing heavily from the subsurface water.

Landowners along the pipeline route have already formed an association, elected a board of directors and begun working with the state Department of Ecology, the East Columbia Irrigation District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to design and engineer the pipeline, according to a press release from the EL 22.1 Landowners Association.

The pipeline is currently set to include two pumping stations and six delivery points.

“Getting the EL 22.1 irrigation pipeline project completed in imperative so that irrigated crops can continue to be produced and processed in eastern Grant County, as well as in Adams and Lincoln counties,” the press release said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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