City of Othello Water Supply Consulting Services

The Problem

The City of Othello (City) lies in the semi-arid desert of the Columbia Plateau and is entirely dependent on groundwater. The wellfield for this growing City of 8,000+ has suffered significant losses in capacity for decades, which cannot be sustainably addressed by only adding more wells. Beyond water supply, the City has a strong food processing industry – already home to two of the world’s largest potato processors – which requires steady and large volumes of water to keep the supply process humming.

How We Helped

Aspect assisted the City in assessing options to provide reliable, long-term water supply and helped secure Department of Ecology Office of Columbia River (OCR) grant funding to complete an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) feasibility study and testing program. Aspect is currently implementing pilot testing using a new City well, Well 3R, that is instrumented specifically to allow for ASR pilot testing. Aspect developed well drilling specifications and provided direction, design, and management for construction of the new, 980-foot-deep well.

Client Milestones

The new well achieved water quality goals in a challenging environment and exceeded expectations for well yield. Well aquifer testing was completed in 2018, with ASR pilot testing planned for 2019 and 2020. The well testing and ASR program is a step towards the City developing a sustainable, reliable, environmentally responsible water plan for the Othello region that will serve Othello residents, food processors, agriculture, and the Columbia Basin region.

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.


Goldendale Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) Feasibility Study

The City of Goldendale’s Simcoe Springs is a snowmelt-derived source of exceptional-quality water; the source is already insufficient to meet the community’s growing demands year-round, and may be reduced in quantity during summer months by future climate change. Aspect helped the City assess expanded use of the critical supply source—storing surplus winter spring flows in an aquifer and pumping the water back for use in the summer (ASR). Our ASR feasibility study developed the information required for an ASR permit application as specified in Chapter 173-157 WAC. Based on our recommendations, the City applied for a new seasonal water right to divert additional Simcoe Springs water for ASR. 

Kennewick Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) Feasibility Study

Aspect initiated the City of Kennewick’s ASR concept to reduce diversion from the Columbia River during peak demand/critical flow periods while optimizing their existing infrastructure, consistent with the Quad Cities Regional Water Supply Plan and the WRIA 31 Watershed Management Plan. We completed the ASR feasibility study that included three required elements for ASR permit application (Chapter 173-157 WAC): the hydrogeologic conceptual model, environmental assessment, and project monitoring plan. As a result, the City secured more than $1M in funding to undertake ASR pilot testing, which likely will lead to full-scale implementation. 

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.

WRIA 30 Multipurpose Water Storage Assessment: Little Klickitat River and Swale Creek

Like other parts of Washington State, water is not uniformly available throughout the year in the Klickitat River watershed (WRIA 30), which can create conflicts between water demands for fish versus people. Aspect completed the initial assessment of storage options for developing new agricultural and municipal water supplies within two priority subbasins of WRIA 30: Little Klickitat River and Swale Creek. We identified prospective storage options based on each subbasin’s physical characteristics, irrespective of water needs. From our assessment, the implementing agencies have initiated a more detailed feasibility study for one of the identified options, in-channel storage within Dry and Idlewild Creeks to achieve both instream and out-of-stream benefits, which Aspect is conducting.

Davis Lake Water Storage Assessment

The 2009 WRIA 48 Detailed Implementation Plan (DIP) for the Methow River Basin identified surface water and groundwater storage to improve water supply for instream and out-of-stream uses. Aspect worked with the Methow Watershed Council to identify storage opportunities, develop and apply screening criteria, and analyze the potential benefits of each use. After our preliminary analysis of three potential projects, the Council selected one with potential to restore summer streamflow and improve irrigation water-supply.

WRIA 31 Watershed Assessment and Planning

Aspect assisted WRIA 31 Policy Advisory Group with each phase of watershed planning. We expedited Level 1 watershed assessment in 10 months so that Phase 3 tasks could proceed, including development of the Watershed Management Plan that focused on water availability and quality, and fish habitat. We developed applications for Ecology grants to initiate Level 2 water quality and water storage projects, including aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) using Columbia River water to meet peak municipal demands. In Phase 4 we identified a preferred water-storage alternative to increase water supplies in the Horse Heaven Hills area using surface and subsurface reservoirs, and assisted the county in obtaining grants to move the preferred alternative into an appraisal assessment.