Meeting to address water needs in Columbia Basin

An almost completed forecast of the long-term need for water in the Columbia Basin and where it will come from will be discussed Wednesday in Richland.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is developing the 20-year forecast with assistance from Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"For the first time, we'll have a comprehensive evaluation of what our water needs will be in the Columbia Basin," said Derek Sandison, who heads the Department of Ecology Office of the Columbia River. "This report provides a blueprint for how we invest in water supply projects."

The report will predict that by 2030, diversions for cities and communities in Eastern Washington will increase by approximately 24 percent, according to the Department of Ecology.

More water also will be needed for agriculture, the single largest use for water in Eastern Washington, because of climate change, economic trends and population growth.

Hydropower use in Eastern Washington is expected to remain fairly stable, with increases in demand being met through conservation projects and power from other sources.

The final report is due to the Legislature on Nov. 15.

The Tri-Cities meeting, one of three in the state, will be from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Tri-Cities West Building, Room 131, Washington State University Tri-Cities, 2710 Crimson Way, Richland.