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County seeks input on reservoir project


August 29, 2018

A proposal to store Columbia River water in an off-channel reservoir is under consideration in a rural watershed in the Horse Heaven Hills, in Benton County, Washington State. Both Benton County and Klickitat County, in coordination with the Washington Department of Ecology’s Office of Columbia River, are seeking input on the scope of an environmental impact statement (EIS) to be prepared for the proposal.

The project would help meet water-resource challenges in the cross-county region that includes Rock, Wood, and Glade Creeks and create new economic opportunities from mitigated (water budget neutral) water right permits on the Columbia River. Water would be pumped to the 44,000 acre-feet reservoir in Switzler Canyon during high flows in the spring and released during periods of low flows to offset new out-of-stream uses, such as irrigation, municipal and domestic water supply. This project would allow for new water uses to be balanced with the environmental and in-stream flow needs of Columbia River aquatic species.

The EIS will evaluate alternatives and significant impacts associated with the proposed storage project. This proposal has been studied in existing environmental documents that are available for review on Klickitat County Natural Resources Department website: .

Over the years, population and agricultural growth in the Rock-Glade watershed (Water Resource Inventory Area or WRIA 31), has been limited by lack of available water for out-of-stream uses.

After nearly a decade of research and coordination with a variety of stakeholders, the WRIA 31 Planning and Advisory Committee (PAC) is moving forward the proposal to build the reservoir project. Funding to study the project was made available through the state’s Columbia River Basin Water Supply Development Account. According to the advisory group plan, benefits of the proposed reservoir water supply could include:

• Creating water supply for up to 12,000 to 28,000 acres of new irrigation

• Creating water supply for up to 1,000 new homes for municipalities

• Improving instream flows through targeted reservoir releases

• Mitigating for interruptible water rights during drought years

Interested parties can help shape the EIS by participating in one of the following public meetings:

Sept. 19, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Klickitat County PUD Building

1313 S. Columbus Avenue


Or at:

Sept. 20, 2018, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Benton County Fairgrounds – Building 4

1500 South Oak Street


Or residents may send comments to Klickitat County Department of Natural Resources and Economic Development, Attention: Dave McClure, Director, 127 West Court Street, Goldendale, WA 98620, or via email at by Oct. 15.


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