Department of Ecology News Release - April 2, 2014


Columbia Basin farmer settles illegal water use violation

SPOKANE – Farrah Wardenaar has reached a settlement agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology after illegally irrigating cropland on Frenchman Hills near Royal City.

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

Wardenaar received and appealed an order to stop irrigating her property in July 2013. She continued to illegally irrigate her cropland and Ecology issued a $59,443 fine in fall 2013.

Wardenaar has agreed to withdraw her appeal and pay $40,000 of the fine. The remaining $19,443 will be excused after three years if she meets settlement agreement conditions including the payment and does not illegally irrigate. Other conditions include using the irrigation water in the authorized location, and meeting all terms of the water use permit.

As part of the settlement agreement, Ecology will provide Wardenaar technical assistance to clearly define where the water can be used according to the water use permit.

Wardenaar illegally irrigated three crops with artificially stored groundwater pumped from the Federal Bureau of Reclamation’s Columbia Basin Project in 2012 and 2013. In total, approximately 100 acre-feet of water was pumped and applied outside the authorized location.

A single acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons, covering 1 acre of land that’s 1 foot deep.

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Media Contact:

Brook Beeler, communications, 509-329-3478, and @ecyspokane