State funds buoy local watershed partnership

The Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership received operating funds as well as money to pay for stream-gauging projects.

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WALLA WALLA -- A local organization charged with creating new ways to manage water is slated to receive a state grant to keep up its work.

The Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership has been selected for a grant of nearly $370,000 to help it continue to put locally adopted watershed plans into action. The money from the state Department of Ecology will be disbursed during the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.

In addition to the money for the partnership, another $20,000 in grants is slated for stream gauging projects in the Walla Walla River basin to improve the ability to measure water flows.

According to a release from Ecology, the Walla Walla partnership was one of 20 local jurisdictions awarded grants. The money will come from $3.5 million approved by the Legislature in 2011 to aid watershed planning in 31 of the state's drainage basins.

Cathy Schaeffer, partnership executive director, said the money will be used to help continue the partnership's work to develop a water banking program, mitigation exchange, and develop local water plans. This summer, the partnership and Ecology approved the first three local water management plans authorized under 2009 legislation which made the Walla Walla River Basin a test model for managing water resources through local control.

The Walla Walla partnership is governed by a board of directors representing agriculture, local government, the Tribes and environmental interests. Housed at the Walla Walla Community College's William A. Grant Water and Environmental Center, it has two full-time staff members, along with technical and policy advisory committees.

The Walla Walla partnership grant was the second-largest amount awarded by Ecology during this round of grants. According to Sandra Hughes, ecology spokeswoman, the grants ranged in size from $425,000 to $10,000 and were focused on communities with high population growth, threatened fish stocks or many competing demands for limited water supplies.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.



On the net

A complete list of the grants and recipients is available at: ubne.ws/p2q0DX

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