Department of Ecology News Release - March 17, 2016

Irrigation district near Walla Walla settles illegal water use violation

WALLA WALLA – The Touchet Eastside Westside Irrigation District agreed to pay a reduced fine over violations for illegally using water intended to protect fish.

The Washington Department of Ecology fined the district in 2015 for diverting water that was placed into trust to protect critical stream flows for threatened steelhead in the Touchet River.

The Touchet River is part of a watershed that is one of 16 considered critical for providing habitat for threatened migratory fish.

Ecology reduced the fine to $62,543 from the original $73,530 because the district provided adjusted metering data that more accurately reflected the amount of water illegally used.

The settlement requires the district to pay half of the penalty, and the remainder will be excused after three years as long as terms in the agreement are met. Terms include providing accurate metering data and staying within the limits of permitted water use.

Under the agreement, the district must apply $10,000 of the fine toward operation and maintenance of the metering and reporting equipment.

The Pollution Control Hearings Board approved the settlement on March 16.

Contact:

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