OLYMPIA, Wash. – How much water will be needed to support communities, farms and fish in the Columbia Basin and where it will come from? That’s the focus of a near-final report from the Washington Department of Ecology’s Office of the Columbia River.
 
A series of public workshops is scheduled for Sept. 7, 8, and 9 in Richland, Wenatchee and Spokane to share particulars of the report and to garner feedback about the preliminary findings. An online version of a workshop will be available in late September for those who cannot attend a workshop in person.
 
The workshops will be held:
• Wednesday, Sept. 7, from 3 to 7 p.m., Tri-Cities West Building Room 131, WSU Tri-Cities, 2710 Crimson Way, Richland
• Thursday, Sept. 8, from 1 to 5 p.m., WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Overley Laboratory Building, 1100 N. Western Ave., Wenatchee
• Friday, Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., WSU Spokane County Extension Office conference rooms B and C, 222 N. Havana, Spokane
 
The report evaluates the effects of climate change, economic trends and population growth on the Columbia River Basin and the water needs of eastern Washington.
 
“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 Office of the Columbia River. “This report provides a blueprint for how we invest in water supply projects. It will help tell us where and when more water is needed in eastern Washington.”
 
It is predicted that reduced snowfall and earlier snowmelt will influence surface water flows in the basin. The report also predicts that by 2030 diversions for cities and communities in eastern Washington will increase by 24 percent, increasing agricultural irrigation needs. 
 
“The Columbia River Basin Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast” is being developed by the ecology office with assistance from Washington State University and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. A long-term supply and demand forecast is produced every five years and is due to the state Legislature on Nov. 15.
 
For more information on the report visit http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/cwp/wsu_supply-demand.html.