One-of-a-kind Walla Walla water program signed into law

A bill to expand the work of a water management program in Walla Walla was signed into law today. The proposal is the product of several differing parties coming together to find a water management system that will work for farms, fish, and especially people.

Rep. Maureen Walsh, co-sponsor of the bill and Rep. Laura Grant-Herriot, supporter of the bill her late father Rep. Bill Grant started, attended the bill signing ceremony in Olympia.

House Bill 1580 creates a water bank, and authorize voluntary, cooperative agreements that would enhance water flows in combination with more flexibility for water use.

“We have discussed many water bills this legislative session regarding water relinquishment, stock watering, crop rotation and water management. The amount of legislation attempting to address the litany of water issues in our state, and the challenge to make needed changes, shows the real struggle at the state level,” said Walsh, R-Walla Walla. “The unanimous passage of this legislation shows the much-deserved recognition of the excellent work of all those individuals who have been involved with this effort, and it serves as a tribute to Bill Grant.”

“This brings together the irrigators, environmental advocates, urban users and tribes for a common cause,” said Grant-Herriot, D-Walla Walla. “They are working together because they realize their futures are linked to one another.”

The 16th District lawmakers said the water program will complement the research and collaborative work of the William A. Grant Water Center, where offices for the water partnership will be located.

“The center represents the concept of collaboration on water issues, while the pilot water program is the tangible effort to bring that collaborative concept to life,” Walsh said. “We call this the Walla Walla Way because our community works together toward common goals, even when there are serious challenges.”

“The water program will carry out the legacy my father left – one of collaboration and fighting for the common person,” Grant-Herriot said. “I’m proud to see his work continue to solve such a critical issue for our basin, and really, our entire state. This can provide a blueprint for the rest of the state moving forward.”

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For more information, contact:  Sarah Lamb, Public Information Officer – (360) 786-7720