Selah-Moxee Irrigation District Water Management Planning

The Problem

For over a century, the Selah-Moxee Irrigation District (SMID) has irrigated over 7,000 acres of the some of the most productive agricultural land in the Yakima Basin. However, areas surrounding their district have been challenged by declining groundwater for decades. To help ensure greater water security in the region, SMID assessed their water rights portfolio to see how they could leverage their currently supply to offset these declines.

How We Helped

Aspect set the stage for broad water management strategy improvements by auditing their water rights portfolio, including conducting GIS surveys to determine potential consumptive and non-consumptive water use savings from land use changes and canal lining. This groundwork led to helping SMID secure $150,000 in grant money to find supply side solutions around declining groundwater in their area.

SMID Milestones

The district has clear first steps to a more secure water supply for Yakima Basin groundwater user. Further groundwater management studies, led by Aspect, include a groundwater infiltration study aimed at retiming Yakima River flows to benefit the river during low flow months and water marketing studies to evaluate expansion of SMID service areas to move declining groundwater users onto more reliable surface supplies.

White Salmon ASR Feasibility Study and Pilot Testing

As part of our water supply and hydrogeologic services, Aspect is evaluating the City of White Salmon’s water rights and the potential for improving supply by using their existing surface water source and wellfield for aquifer storage and recovery (ASR). Based on our evaluation of hydrogeologic conditions, existing water system infrastructure, and seasonal availability of water for storage we designed and are implementing a pilot test to confirm the water quantities that can be stored and recovered, demonstrate compliance with water quality standards,  and support permitting of new water rights for ASR use.

Methow Valley Irrigation District Water Bank

After decades of litigation with the Department of Ecology regarding whether its canals were wasting water, MVID entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement to drastically improve irrigation efficiency.  This created an opportunity for regional collaboration with Ecology (who desired additional water for fish), with the Town of Twisp (who needed additional municipal water supply), and with MVID farmers (who received inadequate reliable supply particularly at the end of the canal system).  Aspect, in conjunction with teaming partners like Trout Unlimited, worked on developing a regional partnership for people (Twisp), farms (MVID), and fish (Ecology). 

Aspect played several important roles in helping to coordinate and permit this $10+ million dollar project, including:

  • Facilitation of public meetings to help gain consensus on the permitting approach and how water savings would be allocated.
  • Primary author of trust water transfers to establish the Water Bank, and new permits to MVID and Twisp based on water supply savings.
  • Assistance in negotiation of a purchase and sale agreement between MVID and Twisp, and a trust water agreement between MVID and Ecology.
  • Developing the SEPA compliance documents for the project. 
  • Developing the first coordinated certification program in Washington State to allow dozens of new MVID users served by groundwater wells to receive certificated water rights for the project.

Additional maps and detail on this innovative project is available on the District’s website at and an informational video below.


Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Paterson Pipeline

For the DNR, Aspect performed a regional-level evaluation of water rights, pipeline infrastructure potential, and water-supply scenarios to irrigate 4,400 acres in Benton County. We assessed solutions for areas with declining groundwater levels and recommended alternatives that solved complex permitting, water-supply infrastructure, water rights, environmental, and funding issues.  A feasibility study to develop preliminary designs on a regional pump station is underway.

Okanogan and Ferry Counties Gold Mines

Aspect is assisting Kinross Gold Corporation with water right transfers, wastewater, and stormwater permitting for active, closed, and exploratory gold mines in northeast Washington.  We transferred water rights, helped obtain new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and stormwater permit authorizations, and collaborated on design solutions for control and treatment of mine-impacted waters.

Glacier Springs Water Association

Aspect assisted the Glacier Springs Water Association with water-right support for water-system planning, municipal water-right conformances, and extent and validity review of its water rights.  We helped facilitate meetings between Glacier Springs and Ecology, and developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to resolve a path forward over conflicting water-right interpretations.  The outcome of the MOU process was Superseding Certificates that clarified that Glacier Springs’ water rights were for municipal water supply purposes.

Wenatchee Basin Coordinated Cost Reimbursement Program

Aspect is implementing a Coordinated Cost Reimbursement Program for Chelan County Natural Resources Department, Ecology, and area municipalities.   The Program offered approximately 100 pending applicants in the Wenatchee Basin the opportunity to have their water right processed. The Program is currently in the implementation phase, with Reports of Examination being prepared for participating applicants.

Horse Heaven Hills Water Storage Appraisal Assessment

Aspect assessed multipurpose water-storage options to increase irrigation water supply for the Horse Heaven Hills area—the agricultural center of WRIA 31 and an American Viticultural Area. We initially assessed 13 surface reservoir sites and, based on preliminary cost-benefits, we arrived at a preferred alternative of two in-channel surface reservoirs comprising approximately 100,000 acre-feet of storage capacity and 10,000 acre-feet of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR). The follow-on assessment retained Switzler Reservoir and demonstrated substantial public benefit by using the new water supply to mitigate impacts from new Columbia River water rights. The project involves diverse watershed stakeholders and is currently in SEPA review.

Water Supply Support for Soboba Band of San Luiseno Indians

Related to the southern California Tribe’s water supply, Aspect has provided a range of support from water rights litigation to the implementation of the resulting Settlement Agreement. Infrastructure projects have included siting and design of two 1,100-feet deep, high-capacity municipal supply wells; pump and well rehabilitation pumping cost analysis; SCADA system upgrades; stream gaging; water-level monitoring; database services; and geotechnical support for levee and creek crossing projects.  Environmental support to the Tribe includes wellhead protection area plan,  305B report, and non-point-source assessment report.

Col Solare Vineyard Water Supply Development

Aspect assisted with acquisition and transfer of existing water rights and oversaw the siting, construction, aquifer testing, and permitting of a high-capacity wellfield to support vineyard development in the Red Mountain appellation area.  We sited wells based on detailed stratigraphic and structural analysis of the Columbia River Basalt system and hydraulic continuity of specific water-bearing units with the Yakima River.  We helped Ste. Michelle reach agreement with Ecology on permitting of a water-right transfer from surface to groundwater, as well as pump design and operations (combined capacity greater than 1,500 gpm).