Public comment sought on water plan
WALLA WALLA – An integrated water management plan for the Walla Walla River Basin is now ready for public comment. Streamflows and aquifers have steadily declined in spite of a decades-long effort to find lasting water solutions for the region according to the Washington Department of Ecology.
A new initiative was convened in October 2019 called Walla Walla Water 2050 by Ecology and the Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership. In concert with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the state of Oregon, and numerous stakeholders a plan has been developed.
The basin supports irrigators, supplies drinking water, provides habitat for endangered species, and offers recreational tourism. In addition, planners had to work with regulatory differences between two states.
The plan lists opportunities for new water supplies and mechanisms to restore floodplains and reduce flood risks, improve habitat, and meet water quality goals for threatened fish.
Once the planning document is finalized on June 30, the committee will be tasked with developing governance and funding strategies. Public comment will be accepted through May 24. More information on how to comment as well as the plan itself are available at https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-supply/Water-supply-projects-EW/Walla-Walla-2050/Strategic-plan.
Blue Mountains seen in Eastern Oregon feature a dusting of snow, a source of water for the Walla Walla River. Photo credit: Bonnie Moreland.