Department of Ecology News Release - October 29, 2008
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has issued four new water rights for the city of Camas that will spur economic growth for the Southwest Washington community and help protect salmon runs and critical fish habitat.
Ecology and city officials announced the water rights at the site of an under-construction utility and pedestrian bridge that will carry some of the new supply of water across the Washougal River. The area is considered an important corridor for salmon and also features a habitat restoration project within walking distance of the bridge.
"This is a very significant achievement," Camas Mayor Paul Dennis said. "It is a key step in assuring Camas' water supplies far into the future. This is a major step of environmental stewardship. We are pleased with the agreement and appreciate the farsighted accomplishment this represents. It is truly a ‘win-win' situation."
Ecology Director Jay Manning said, "This decision is good news for salmon and good news for southwest Washington. It allows Camas to have the water it needs to grow its economy and serve its citizens, while at the same time protecting the natural resources that make this a great place to live, work and recreate."
As a result of Ecology's decision, the city has rights to receive 4.3 million gallons per day of new water to add to its current authorization of 5.6 million gallons per day. That combined total will meet the city's 2020 demand projection.
Camas currently draws its municipal water supply from two surface water diversions on the Jones and Boulder Creeks, high in the watershed, and from nine groundwater wells along the Washougal River. The Jones and Boulder Creek water diversions during summer months take water away during a critical time for fish.
A broad coalition of representatives from local and state agencies, tribes, business interests, environmental groups and private citizens developed a watershed plan, which was adopted by Clark, Skamania and Cowlitz counties in 2006. This plan helped the city and Ecology agree on a strategy to approve the new water rights.
The watershed plan recommended shifting the city's water supplies away from the Jones and Boulder Creeks to another source with less impact on fish and habitat.
As a result of the new water rights, the city will eliminate its withdrawal from the headwaters of the two creeks during low-flow times and in exchange, draw groundwater from three new wells in a productive aquifer in the lower Washougal/Columbia River floodplain. Leaving more water to flow through the Jones and Boulder Creeks into the Washougal will enhance 18 miles of critical habitat for threatened steelhead, Chinook and chum runs and at-risk Coho salmon.
Kim Schmanke, Ecology media relations, 360-791-9830 (cell)
Eric Levison, Camas operations manager, 360-817-1563 ext. 4251 (desk)
For more information:
Lewis, Salmon-Washougal watershed planning: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/apps/watersheds/planning/27-28.html
Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board watershed plan: http://www.lcfrb.gen.wa.us/Watershed%20planning%20general/Watershed.htm
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