Columbia Basin farmer fined for illegal water use

Tri-City HeraldNovember 20, 2013 

A Columbia Basin farmer is being fined about $59,000 by the Washington State Department of Ecology for alleged illegal water use.

Ecology investigators claim Farrah Wardenaar has been illegally irrigating cropland on Frenchman Hills near Royal City since 2012.

Officials say Wardenaar irrigated three crops with artificially stored groundwater pumped from the Federal Bureau of Reclamation's Columbia Basin Project.

More than 100 acre-feet of water were pumped and applied outside of where it was authorized for use, according to the news release.

A single acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons, covering one acre of land one foot deep.

Ecology officials said they offered Wardenaar technical assistance to correct the violation in summer 2012, but that Wardenaar's irrigation operations continued after Ecology issued an order to stop irrigating the land.

Wardenaar can appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.

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