Odessa Subarea
Special Study - DEIS

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Clean, Flowing Waters for the West
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What’s proposed

The Columbia River and its salmon runs are in trouble.  Dams and water withdrawals have reduced flows. Glaciers that feed the river – Glacier National Park and the Columbia Ice Fields – are melting, sending important messages about climate change and water availability.  Teck Cominco’s lead smelter at Trail B.C. has heavily contaminated the 150-mile reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam.  

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation proposes to divert more water from the Columbia River to expand federally-subsidized irrigation on the Columbia Plateau.   The Bureau has issued a severely flawed 780-page draft environmental impact study.  We are asking you to send comments to the Bureau.  Here are major problems:

  1. The Bureau proposes to take more water from the Columbia River – despite the recommendations of the National Academies of Science.  More water diversions will aggravate problems for this river and its fabled salmon runs.

  2. The Bureau’s project will destroy shrub-steppe habitat and the birds and wildlife that depend on the last-remaining remnants of this special habitat.

  3. Drawing down Lake Roosevelt will expose more toxins deposited from Teck Cominco’s lead smelter, with increasing risks to public and environmental health.

  4. The economics are awful – with taxpayers and ratepayers shelling out billions of dollars in subsidies to pay for french fry potatoes.

  5. The Bureau fails to address the impacts of climate change:  what happens to water availability when the glaciers melt?

  6. The Bureau fails to discuss impacts on impending changes in the Columbia River Treaty which are likely to reduce operating flexibility at Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Roosevelt.

Questions or want to help?  contact John Osborn, MD john@waterplanet.ws or 509-939-1290.

For more information, visit our website:  www.celp.org

Sage Grouse

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s proposals will further destroy shrub-steppe habitat and the birds and wildlife that depend on habitat.  Ecojustice photo


  1. -1/31/11 Conservations file comments -  including nearly 700 postcards - asking the USBR to withdraw its Draft EIS.

  1. -12/30/10 USBR proposal a money-loser and won’t fix Odessa’s problem.  Economic assessment published by Norman Whittlesey and Walter Butcher. click here.

  1. -12/5/10 Professors Whittlesey and Butcher:  Review of Economics - Odessa DEIS

Superfund “Bathtub Ring”

Lake Roosevelt behind Grand Coulee Dam.  Lowering water levels further exposes sediments contaminated by the Teck Cominco smelter in Canada.  (CELP photo archives)

Columbia River at Grand Coulee Dam

The US Bureau of Reclamation uses hydropower to pump river water to Banks Lake (right upper photo) and beyond for irrigation. (BOR photo)

East Low Canal

(CELP photo archives)

(CELP photo archives)

Teck Cominco Smelter -

Trail, British Columbia

Pollution dumped the Columbia River flows across the international boundary from Canada into the United States.   (CELP photo archives)

Weber Siphon.

Pipe under construction to move more Columbia River water under Interstate 90:  Weber Siphon.   The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has long sought to expand federal irrigation in the Columbia Basin Project.  USBR has evaded the required cost-benefit analysis.  Click here for more on the Weber Siphon.   (October 24, 2010 CELP photo archives)


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