When I was first elected to the Sunnyside City Council I was introduced to some gentlemen who were trying to get the Federal government to help address the issues of water in the Yakima Valley, they had a plan (a good plan) – and were doing their best to get the word out.
Well that was 4 years ago, and the project is still going strong, despite some government agencies, whose answer is to “do nothing” – that doesn't phase these guys and gals, they believe as do I that the future of this valley depends on whether or not we have water for drinking, water for irrigation and water for clean rivers and streams.
Known locally as the “Black Rock Project” – the organization is official called the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance and its run by some great people.
Since the 1800's when Chief Kamiakin diverted water near the Ahtanam Mission into a ditch to irrigate a small patch of corn, water and controlling where it goes has played a major role in both the welfare and economy of this valley.
Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued their answer to the problem, that is to “Do Nothing” – since the project (along with other alternative projects) – will ultimately effect plant and wildlife (when does building anything not effect plant and wildlife?) – Their answer is to put our heads in the sand and just pretend the issue doesn't exist. Well I say that is the wrong answer!
Many people who know me, will tell you that I do care strongly about our environment, and that I believe man's ability to survive as a species depends on whether or not we respect the environment we live in; however to what extent? Do we allow a particular species of bird to prohibit military training exercises designed to prepare our men and women for combat? You would say, no, right? Well you would be wrong. The Yakima Training Center has thousands of acres of prime training land not being used because of the sage grouse; on that same token, do we allow the welfare and economy of our valley to die, because of a particular species of plant life? Well not yet, but if the USFWS has anything to say about it, the shrub-steppe will prohibit the development of the Black Rock project.
There is a saying that, “A wise man plants a tree knowing that he may never sit under it.” – I believe that. We as stewards of this valley, need to insure that our children, and their children, and their children's children have the water they need to survive and prosper, Black Rock addresses that issue, and it's why I support it.
To learn more about Black Rock and the other projects being looked at by the Bureau of Reclamation, please visit these links:
- Yakima Basin Storage Alliance
- U.S. Department of the Interior – Bureau of Reclamation – Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study
- Water for the Future: A streamed video (courtesy of Axcess Internet®) produced in April of 2004, the video outlines the issues affecting the Black Rock Dam Assessment.
- Between Two Basins: A streamed video (courtesy of Axcess Internet®) that outlines the criteria used to generated the Appraisal Assessment of the Black Rock Alternative report which was released in February 2005.