PASCO — Pasco has two promising possibilities to help solve its drinking water deficit.
The Pasco City Council discussed options to fill the city's water needs Monday.
Pasco's growth in the past 15 years has created a demand for water beyond what the city can legally withdraw, said Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield. The city's deficit in 2010 was about 1.2 billion gallons, or 3,600 acre feet.
Pasco has been borrowing from the so-called quad-cities Columbia River water right it shares with Kennewick, Richland and West Richland, but that water will need to be given back, he said.
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There are two options where the city could receive water held by the federal Bureau of Reclamation.
One option is to contract directly with the bureau for water it has for municipal and industrial uses, Crutchfield said. The other involves water the state Department of Ecology has under contract from the bureau for the Lake Roosevelt draw-down project.
The department has committed to helping the city access water from the Lake Roosevelt draw-down project, Crutchfield said.
The department is in the process of issuing permits for about 8.5 billion gallons of water made available for municipal and industrial uses in the Lake Roosevelt draw-down project, said Derek Sandison, director of the department's Office of Columbia River.
The city has applied for water rights in case any is left over in the allocation process, Crutchfield said.
New water rights issued by the state will carry an annual fee, he said. The city also would have to pay an annual fee if it contracts with the bureau directly. In both cases, the water rights would be issued for a 40-year period.
The city and department have had a long-standing debate about water that Pasco has been adamant the department verbally committed to providing to the city as part of the quad-cities permit, Crutchfield said.
Sandison has been helping to resolve that. The city may receive a $2.68 million grant for water projects in lieu of the debated water, Crutchfield said.
The department already has the funds for the grant, but Sandison said it needs to keep its fingers crossed that capital funds will remain intact with the state Legislature's upcoming special session.
The grant would help pay for the extension of an irrigation water line and a new water intake station in the Columbia River.
A third water intake station is needed, said Ahmad Qayoumi, city public works director. At the moment, the city can draw 9 million gallons per day, which is what is being drawn now.
A new larger water intake would help meet current and future water needs, Qayoumi said. The intake could be added near the Interstate 182 bridge.
It could take about two years to design and get the needed permits for an intake structure, Crutchfield said.
The grant would help pay for the intake design, but the city would still need about $2 million for construction, Qayoumi said.
The city also wants to extend a 16-inch irrigation water line along I-182 to Road 100 so homeowners can switch from using potable water to irrigation water for lawns, Qayoumi said. About 1,643 homes don't have access to irrigation water. That project will help free up about 340 million gallons of potable water, he said.
Part of the grant would allow the city to finish construction design and acquisition for a booster station needed to pump the water, he said.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org.