200712400 - Okanogan County Irrigation Water Management Improvement Project
Sponsor: Okanogan Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Budgets: FY07: $281,209 | FY08: $373,909 | FY09: $372,659
Short description: To provide money and technical assistance to local landowners for irrigation system improvements in the interest of improving water quality and quantity throughout Okanogan County for fish habitat.
Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)
Funding category: Expense
Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0
ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable
This was not a technical proposal, and without more details about how specific irrigation improvement projects will be selected there was little to evaluate from a scientific standpoint. Whether or not a new Okanogan Conversation District (OCD) board should be established, as this proposal suggests, or whether an existing entity could also perform this function effectively, is a policy question. Technical and scientific background: This proposal is for startup money for the Okanogan Soil and Water Conservation District to establish a procedure for local landowners to apply for irrigation improvement funds. There are no specific on-the-ground water conservation projects included in this proposal; it is strictly to fund a planning and priority process for Okanogan County irrigators. While the need for increased flows and water quality improvements have been highlighted in the subbasin plan, there is little of a technical or scientific nature to evaluate in this proposal, other than possibly the validity of the ranking scoresheet. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: Increasing flow is an important component of the subbasin plans for both the Okanogan and the Methow. Assuming that the projects funded by this proposal actually are effective in increasing flow, this program could contribute to achieving the ecological objectives in the subbasin plans. However, the proposal does not provide enough information to assess the likelihood of achieving this objective. There also is a question of how this project would fit into ESA-related salmon recovery actions. Even if a project were assigned high priority by the conservation district, wouldn't it still require ESA consultation? Relationships to other projects: Relationships of this project selection process to ongoing soil and water conservation projects are discussed in a very general way. It appears that the program proposed here is one of several efforts in these subbasins that do essentially the same thing; provide funding for farmers to make their use of irrigation water more efficient. What this proposal does not discuss, however, is specifically what this program will add to the existing efforts (beyond additional money). Will the proposed program address areas, landowners, or situations that are not covered by these other programs? Will the existence of the proposed program enhance the value or effectiveness of existing efforts? A better description of how various programs fit together would have provided a more complete context for the proposed effort. Objectives: The objectives are appropriate, in so far as they address a key concern identified in the subbasin plans. However, the objectives are very general. The proposal accepts the biological goals of regional recovery plans and purportedly will select irrigation improvement projects that have the greatest potential to contribute to recovery objectives. Beyond that, no details are given. Tasks (work elements) and methods: A process for evaluating project proposals submitted to this program is briefly described. Very little detail is given about the types of changes in irrigation infrastructure needed. According to the proposal, the Okanogan Conversation District would favor irrigation methods that reduce water loss, such as drip and micro-irrigation. Beyond that, no details are given. Monitoring and evaluation: There is no mention of monitoring and evaluation in the proposal. Presumably, some level of monitoring would (should) be associated with each funded project under this program. At a minimum, some measure of the water saved and, if possible, verification that this water is appearing the channel should be required. Also, it would seem that given the number of programs in the region that are addressing irrigation water use, a coordinated monitoring effort that examines in-channel flow and near-channel groundwater levels should be established. Ideally, this program would be coupled with project-specific monitoring and also include long-term monitoring of key water quality variables. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: It was difficult to assess the adequacy of this item because no specific water conservation projects are described in the proposal. There was a mention that the current computer system wasn't up to handling the GIS tasks required by this program. A new computer system is included in the proposal. Information transfer: The Okanogan Soil and Water Conservation District has an ambitious plan for public outreach and local education that is thoroughly discussed in the proposal. Outreach to individuals in the local agricultural community appears to be well thought out and should be quite effective. Benefits to focal and non-focal species: It is difficult to assess the benefit to fish of the proposed program because specific projects were not described. How much water will be returned to the channel? Where in the watershed will this water be added? How significant will the associated improvements in water quality be? Presumably, successful implementation of this program will have some impact on flow. But without an estimate of how much additional flow, the actual benefit for the fish is uncertain. Adding water to the channel should not have any negative effects on non-focal species. In fact, if the program makes a measurable contribution to in-channel flow, some riparian wildlife species may benefit.
Response loop edit
See the sponsor's revised proposal from the response loop. You'll be taken to CBFWA's proposal system in Section 10 where most sponsors uploaded revised narratives or other responses to the ISRP comments.
State/province recommendation: Washington
Review group: Washington list
Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)
Comment: See Washington guidance