Washington State Department of Ecology - November 20, 2013

13-286

Columbia Basin farmer fined $59,443 for illegal water use

SPOKANE – Farrah Wardenaar is being fined for illegally irrigating cropland on Frenchman Hills near Royal City since 2012.

Ecology investigators report Wardenaar illegally irrigated three crops with artificially stored groundwater pumped from the Federal Bureau of Reclamation’s Columbia Basin Project. In total, more than 100 acre-feet of water were pumped and applied outside the authorized location.

In the summer of 2012, Ecology offered Wardenaar technical assistance to correct the violation. Wardenaar’s irrigation operations continued after Ecology issued an order to stop irrigating the cropland.

All water right permits have special provisions, including where water is withdrawn, the purpose for which it can be used and location it can be applied.

The Columbia Basin Project has additional requirements. Irrigating outside the authorized “place of use” interferes with state and federal water managers’ ability to provide an adequate water supply for legal water users.

Water supply in the Columbia Basin Project is tightly managed not only to benefit water users, but to protect important fish and wildlife habitat.

Water that runs off the illegally irrigated crop land does not return to the Potholes Reservoir and is therefore lost to the Columbia Basin Project. The project design recaptures unused water within the boundary through infiltration.

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

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

# # #

Media Contacts:

Brook Beeler, @ecyspokane; 509-329-3478; brook.beeler@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

Water Resources Program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/wrhome.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/socialmedia.html)