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This bill diverts Columbia River water to irrigation activities test program in Umatilla River Basin to see if it will protect valuable ground water resources.
Appropriates $500,000 for grants to Umatilla County and Morrow County for activities related to the implementation and operation of the pilot program. Sunsets pilot program January 2, 2025.
Columbia river waters are currently under utilized during times when irrigation is needed. Most Fish populations do not enter fresh water until late fall. Responsible program for best use practices. It will, to the extent practicable, make Columbia River water available for the pilot program by promoting, expediting and providing support and assistance for conservation projects and efforts by holders of existing Columbia River water rights. The leasing of conserved water to the department under this section is a beneficial use of the water by the holder and may not be considered nonuse for purposes of abandonment or forfeiture of the water right. Identify the critical ground water areas of the Umatilla River Basin that are accessible by existing water pumping infrastructure.
Allows greater local control of water use. Pilot to explore ways to get the much needed irrigation water for critical areas.