Thursday, June 24, 2021

Letter: ECBID mismanagement moves sideways

| October 22, 2020 1:00 AM

The Odessa deep-well irrigators are desperate to receive surface water.

Public water utilities are pursuing of expensive water supplies.

Both irrigators and public utilities continue to wait for the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) to replace deep-wells with surface water from the Columbia River. The ECBID blunders on without results even though USBR and Department of Ecology have provided an allotment of 90,000 acres of surface water. This allotment was given to ECBID for the replacement of deep-wells in the Odessa Aquifer area.

2018: The United States Department of Agriculture has funding available for the Odessa deep-well replacement project, administered through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS has $300 million available to farmers to cost-share the replacement of deep-wells.

2019: The Washington state conservationist met face-to-face with the ECBID manager to make clearly known the large amount of cost-share funds available to farmers for deep well replacement. The state conservationist stated approximately $900,000 is available from NRCS directly to the ECBID to expedite deep-well replacement. ECBID manager deceives the ECBID Board of Directors by suggesting the above amount is not enough funding available to warrant the effort.

2020: The ECBID manager recommended the board of directors pass a resolution to prevent landowners from having full control of their replacement projects. The ECBID Manager wants all funding directed to ECBID for his management discretion. This would increase total replacement costs and slow the replacement project.

Recently farmers, who know how to get things done, have become knowledgeable about the NRCS funding opportunity. NRCS contracts directed to farmers are cost-sharing grants that do not have to be repaid. These deep-well irrigators are desperate and motivated to quickly replace their deep-well irrigation with surface water from the ECBID.

Public utilities and citizens will benefit.

Mark Booker