WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Members of the Pacific Northwest’s congressional delegation released the following statements after the final Record of Decision on the Columbia River System Operations was filed, signaling the completion of President Trump’s Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West:
“Federal water infrastructure makes our way of life possible throughout the West. Central Washington boasts one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, and our farmers and ranchers would simply not be able to provide food and fiber for the world without a reliable supply of our most precious resource: water,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA). “The Presidential Memorandum, which called for the completion of the scientific environmental review for the Columbia River System Operations a year sooner than originally slated, is delivering certainty to not only our agriculture industry, but to the millions of people who rely on the clean and reliable power generated by our hydroelectric dams. I applaud President Trump and his Administration for working collaboratively to support our federal water infrastructure, ensure reliable water supply and delivery, and develop a plan for the future.”
“The Columbia and Snake River dams are foundational to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). “They provide us clean, renewable, low-cost energy, support our farmers, provide flood control to our region, and so much more. Based on the best available science, the Columbia River System Operations (CRSO) Record of Decision confirms what we already knew, our dams and river system are essential to our region. Alongside this decision, the administration’s announcement today regarding their actions to ensure a reliable supply of water to the Western United States is essential to meeting the needs of communities in Eastern Washington. Thank you to President Trump for prioritizing and delivering results on these important issues.”
“The Columbia River is vital to the way of life of Southwest Washingtonians, providing clean hydropower, productive salmon runs, safety from floods, and reliable transportation on the Columbia River,” said Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). “The final Record of Decision on the Columbia River System Operations (CRSO) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is the culmination of science-based collaboration by several federal agencies, as well as regional, state, local, and tribal stakeholders. I am pleased that completion of the EIS was prioritized and that it will balance the many needs of Southwest Washingtonians for the future.”
“The carbon free, baseload energy that the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) provides is more important than ever,” said Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID). “The Snake River Dams are critical to our grid’s reliability. While many in California will attack our critical infrastructure, they needed the systems baseload energy this summer to prop up their flawed energy policy. With the release of the FCRPS Record of Decision, the science shows, yet again, that our hydropower system is crucial to our way of life in Idaho and the entire West.”
“Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are blessed with a river system that helps us transport goods and that generates 43 percent of our state's electricity. I am pleased that the Trump Administration successfully prioritized the completion of the most recent environmental review guiding operations of the Columbia River System, to protect fish and support clean, renewable energy in our region,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR).
On October 19, 2018, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West (Western Water PM) directing the Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Army Corps, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Energy to coordinate and complete the environmental reviews of major water infrastructure projects in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The Western Water PM specifically included the comprehensive scientific review of the Columbia River System Operations.
The final Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration as co-lead agencies on July 31. The EIS documents evaluate the impacts of the long-term, coordinated water management functions for the operation, maintenance, and configuration of the 14 federal dam and reservoir projects that comprise the federal Columbia River System. Reps. Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers, and Herrera Beutler released a joint statement applauding the release.
The joint Record of Decision on the Columbia River System Operations EIS was signed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration on September 28, 2020. The Record of Decision is the final step in the Columbia River System Operations National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
In addition to streamlining environmental review processes for specific projects, the Western Water PM directed the Departments of the Interior and Commerce to convene water experts and resource managers to develop an action plan to improve information and modeling capabilities related to water infrastructure projects. The Federal Action Plan for Improving Forecasts of Water Availability was released in October 2019.
The Western Water PM also called for improving use of technologies to improve the reliability and accuracy and delivery of water and power, including enabling the use of recycled water. The National Water Reuse Action Plan was issued in February 2019.