the film
Economic and dam related articles

Spud Farmers Ad-tack Banks Lake Proposal

by Peggy Steward
Capital Press, April 18, 2003

The fight over a proposal to draw down Banks Lake in Washington state's Columbia Basin has kicked up a notch.

The Washington Potato Commission has taken out full-page advertisements in four newspapers blasting the proposal.

"The Banks Lake drawdown will have a devestating impact on the Washington potato industry - and you," the ad headline reads.

The ads appeared April 8 in the Spokane spokesman-Reveiw, the Wenatchee World, the Tri-City Herald and the Columbia Basin Herald in Moses Lake.

"We were concerned that a lot of people didn't know about the drawdown proposal," said Pat Boss, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission. "We felt we had to step up, to bring up awareness before it's too late,"

The ads descrive the potato industry's economic contribution to the state and regional economy and the effect the proposed drawdown could have. "The potential devastation to the economies of Columbia Basin communities is very real," the ad said.

It cites several stateistics:

NOAA Fisheries (formerly known as the National Marine Fisheries Service) earlier ordered the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to draw down the Banks Lake 5 feet each year in August. Now it has directed BuRec to look at another 5-foot drawdown to put more water in the mainstem Columbia River for migratory fish.

August is the time irrigators need water the most.

BuRec's draft envionmental impact statement on the proposed drawdown indicates it would have no impact on irrigation water supplies, said Brian Gorman, NOAA Fisheries spokesman in Seattle.

Still, the farmers are worried. they are concerned that if there are several dry years in a row, the reservoir's recharge capacity might be affected.

Farmers say the drawdown proposal is based on questionjable data and information in NMFS' 2000 biological opinion, issued under the federal Endangered Species Act. they say there is no evidence the drawdown would benefit fish.

Gorman acknowledged there is a debate about the benefit of flow augmentation to fish.

"It's difficult to put a precise number on how much water is needed to benefit fish," Gorman said. "Just because we don't know that number doesn't mean we shouldn't do it."

"We disagree with NOAA fisheries and the Bureau of Reclamation," Boss said. "This type of thing could be damaging to the potato industry's infrastructure and to the potato growers' ability to irrigate their crops."

The potato commission authorized $50,000 for three sets of ads, Boss said. The Banks Lake issue is the subject of the first set. Other ads are being scheduled to outline the benefits of the potato industry, he said.

Peggy Steward, Staff Writer
Spud Farmers Ad-tack Banks Lake Proposal
Editorial, Capital Press, April 18, 2003

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation