The Bureau of Reclamation has completed the Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study Final Planning Report/Environmental Impact Statement and is distributing it to the public in anticipation of its formal filing with the US Environmental Protection Agency on December 19.
The purpose of the storage study is to develop and evaluate alternatives that could create additional water storage for the Yakima River basin and assess their potential to improve anadromous fish habitat, enhance the reliability of irrigation water supplies during dry years, and provide water to meet future municipal water demands.
In the Final PR/EIS, Reclamation identifies and evaluates four alternatives – three joint alternatives and the No Action alternative. The four alternatives are: ” No Action ” Black Rock ” Wymer Dam and Reservoir ” Wymer Dam Plus Yakima River Pump Exchange
Reclamation selected the No Action alternative as the preferred alternative because the evaluation revealed that each joint alternative:
” Required significant investment of federal funds ($1 billion to $7.7 billion) plus millions of dollars in annual operating costs ”
Did not provide positive benefit-cost ratios required to be considered economically justified ”
Accrued natural resource benefits, for anadromous fish, in varying degrees ”
Met the municipal water supply goal ”
Did not have acceptability by the community at large as a stand-alone approach to meeting the Storage Study goals ”
Did not adequately meet the four criteria, completeness, effectiveness, efficiency, and acceptability, used to evaluate federal water resource projects
Only the Black Rock alternative consistently met the irrigation water goal. “None of the alternatives adequately met the criteria or were economically justified.
Additionally, they could not provide adequate fishery benefits to be considered the preferred alternative,” said Gerald Kelso, manager of Reclamation’s Upper Columbia Area Office.
Normally, following publication of a Final EIS, Reclamation would not make a decision on how to proceed for at least 30 days; however, since this Final PR/EIS contains new information about the Black Rock Alternative seepage mitigation features, there will be a 45-day comment period for the Final PR/EIS. Responses to these comments will be included in a record of decision, anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2009.
Contact David Kaumheimer, Environmental Program Manager. Phone: (509) 575-5848 ext. 232; Fax: (509) 454-5650. TTY users may dial 711 to obtain a toll free TTY relay. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.