Rep. Newhouse holds meeting for water management plan in Yakima

Rep. Newhouse meeting.jpg

Leaders from the city, county, and state are moving forward with a water management plan that could be the first of its kind in the country.

United States Representative Dan Newhouse held the roundtable meeting on Tuesday in Yakima. It was a room of leaders all working toward the same plan, but representing different people.

"It's an exciting challenge and it's exciting to be a part of as well, because it's really about our future," said Tom Tebb with the Wash. Department of Ecology.

For about six years, they've worked on forming the Yakima River Basin Enhancement Project Phase Three Act. It's a plan that consists of seven elements ranging from water storage to habitat protection.

"It's nothing short of historic; the point where we are today," said Rep. Newhouse.

Rep. Newhouse held the discussion as the legislation heads to the House of Representatives. The group is made up of the Yakama Nation, Yakima Valley farmers/ranchers, the Roza Irrigation District and government leaders.

"We are stronger together than we are individually and I think that's really the take-home message," said Tebb.

The group noted challenges that still remain, such as the need for more federal funding and the support of people who don't want to see changes near their homes. A Yakama Nation leader also commented on the natural resources that may suffer as water levels rise in certain areas.

"The trade-offs just have to be honored there that the greater good is done by moving all these pieces together," said Tom Ring with the Yakama Nation.

They believe these pieces will not only improve the water supply, but also protect and build up the wildlife and agriculture our area relies on.

"We have debated, we have made adjustment and now we've reached a point, an important point, to act," said Mike Leita with the Yakima County Commissioners.

It's an action they hope will boost the economy while becoming a national model.

This is the companion bill to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell's. That bill passed in a Senate committee last week.

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