Local partnership a test for local control of water resources

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The Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership is a 10-year pilot project authorized by the state Legislature in 2009.

Orignally proposed by state Rep. Bill Grant, D-Walla Walla, the legislation has made the Walla Walla River basin a test model for managing water resources through local control.

The law allows the partnership to set up new ways for people to leave water in rivers and streams without giving up rights to that water. The measure also allows for establishment of a "water bank" that will act as a reserve to allow water use without harming stream flows as well as pursue other new ways to balance the needs of agriculture, industries and cities with those of endangered fish species.

A nine-member board governs the partnership. It is composed of representatives from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Columbia County, Walla Walla County, the city of Walla Walla, the planning unit's conservation districts, water right holders, environmental interests and citizens.

Local technical expertise is provided by the partnership's Water Resource Panel and broad stakeholder representation by members of its Policy Advisory Group.

Meetings of the partnership board, which are open to the public, are held monthly at the Walla Walla Community College Water & Environmental Center.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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