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A long-awaited water right has been delivered to Bridgeport in a ceremony today including Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon and city Mayor Marilynn Lynn, past Mayor Steve Jenkins, and Sen. Linda Parlette, R-Wenatchee.
“It’s so nice to be here to deliver on a promise that secures Bridgeport’s future for many years to come,” Director Bellon said. “We want to thank the city for its patience and legislators like Senator Parlette who are helping us make water available up and down the Columbia River – to farmers in the Odessa area and cities in north central Washington.”
Bellon noted the region has struggled to access new water on a river that must balance the needs of hydropower, irrigation and protecting endangered salmon.
In 2011, then Mayor Jenkins negotiated a settlement that provides a reliable supply of drinking water for at least the next 20 years. The additional water will be made available based on water developed from Sullivan Lake through Ecology’s Columbia River Water Management Program. The new water right allows a total of 1,100 acre-feet of water per year to be drawn from the city’s existing wells. Releases from Sullivan Lake to the Columbia River will offset the new well withdrawals.
“Before these additional water rights, growth in the city was at a standstill,” said Mayor Lynn. “With only a handful of water connections available, future residential and business opportunities were very limited.
“The new water right also allows the rotation of water in all three city wells to provide increased service to our community. Together with our new wastewater treatment plant, the city can now accommodate 165 new homes or equivalent businesses,” Lynn said.
Water now stored in Sullivan Lake and Lake Roosevelt on the Columbia River is making it possible for new municipal water right permitting through agreements with the Pend Oreille County’s Public Utilities District No. 1 and with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Sullivan Lake water rights are targeted by legislative mandate for use in Douglas, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Lincoln counties. Lake Roosevelt releases are available for agricultural, municipal and stream flow purposes, and to offset drought shortages for interruptible water right holders on the Columbia River.
Noting the need for new water, the legislature established the state’s Office of Columbia River that develops water for both instream and out-of-stream benefits in a balanced approach.