The Chelan County PUD is signing onto an agreement to purchase a large quantity of water from the Oroville-Tonasket Irrigation District.

The water will be used as needed to shore up needs in hatcheries, parks and water systems, and to assist with power generation.

PUD Commissioner Carnen Bergren says the agreement is a major achievement for the utility.

"This is a really, really powerful thing for the district, and its extreme value" said Bergren. "It will be used for years and years, decades ahead."

The PUD is paying $1 million a year for the equivalent of one foot of water stretched over 4,000 football fields.

Commissioner Randy Smith says the agreement is a major accomplishment that'll provide long-term benefits.

"I have to say this is a huge step for us looking well into our future, and protecting our future," said Smith.

The water will come from a water bank set up by the Oroville-Tonasket Irrigation District (OTID) in 2019. The source of the water is the Similkameen, Okanogan and Columbia Rivers in northern Washington.

The water will remain in those three rivers until it's needed by Chelan PUD.

The water, when accessed, could supplement the PUD’s obligation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), from which it has three licenses to operate dams.

The obligations require the PUD to own and manage certain natural resources and recreation spots, such as the Horan Natural Area and the Confluence State Park in North Wenatchee.

The FERC obligations also include the management of water.

In addition, all water is significant for the PUD’s mission and vision, which includes adapting to climate change.

As well according to the PUD, the purchased water could help when Chelan County has a shortage of water, which would impact junior water rights as senior water rights having a priority.

The PUD’s actual annual purchase from OTID will be 4,000 acre‐feet of water.

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