Icicle Strategy EIS Development, Facilitation, and Technical Studies

The Problem

Stretching across 212 square miles in North Central Washington, the scenic Icicle Creek watershed near Leavenworth is grappling with water problems that have led a diverse set of stakeholders to find a solution. The issues are many: helping endangered fish; ensuring tribal harvest requirements; meeting water supply demand for the growing City of Leavenworth; and serving agriculture and irrigation needs in the Wenatchee Valley; and improving fish passage and habitat. These are just some of the core guiding needs that triggered the Icicle Workgroup to begin work over six years ago on a solution – dubbed the “Icicle Strategy”.

How We Helped

Aspect is the technical and facilitation lead for the $82 Million Icicle Strategy effort, which is designed to improve instream flows, assist in agricultural sustainability, and provide for local domestic growth beyond the year 2050 in the Icicle Creek Subbasin in North Central Washington. Aspect serves the Icicle Working Group that consists of members including Chelan County, City of Leavenworth, Icicle-Peshastin Irrigation District, Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, Yakama Nation, Colville Confederated Tribes, the Washington State Department of Ecology, numerous federal agencies, local citizens, and non-profit organizations.

Our work has included facilitating Working Group sessions, technical evaluation of water resource projects across the subbasin (conservation, storage, pump exchanges, etc.); and leading the writing, review, and public presentation of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).

Icicle Work Group Milestone

The final PEIS, released in January 2019, describe a suite of recommendations including creek modifications for improved fish passage; residential conservation projects in the Leavenworth area; automating dam releases; restoring Eightmile Lake to historical and permitted high water storage elevation; and Leavenworth hatchery infrastructure upgrades; and other projects. The overall program is designed to improve instream flows, assist in agricultural sustainability, and provide for local domestic growth beyond the year 2050 at a cost of $82 million over the next 10 years.

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.

Wenatchee 2050 Watershed Planning

Aspect is working for the Chelan County DNR to implement the next phase of watershed planning in the Wenatchee Basin. This project, funded through state and federal grants, includes planning, permitting, capital infrastructure development, and public outreach/facilitation/litigation support services to ensure sustainable water supply and water resources for future communities and habitat in the basin. We are performing water rights permitting, creating a water rights tracking system of permitted and exempt water rights in 11 subbasins, and coordinating watershed planning in the critical Icicle Creek subbasin to support future capital infrastructure development. We are providing hydrogeological, project management, and GIS services to support the multiple phases of this long-reaching project. 

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.

WRIA 48 Water Right Transfer and Water Bank Planning

Aspect assisted the Methow Watershed Council’s implementation of 20 planning actions recommended in the WRIA 48 Watershed Plan. This work included developing guidance and approaches for: identifying local resources to provide information and education on water-right transfers, assisting in evaluating existing water rights, facilitating placement of existing water rights into the State's Trust Water Rights Program, and administering a local water bank using Trust Water Rights to provide mitigation of new uses in the basin.

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.