Costly Black Rock Dam is Risky and Unnecessary

Cheaper, safer water supply options are available -- Statement of Rob Masonis, American Rivers

January 29th, 2008

<p>Michael Garrity, American Rivers, 206-213-0330 x 11 </p>

Seattle, WA –  A massive new water storage project in the Black Rock Valley east of Yakima would cost $6.7 billion and return only 16 cents on the dollar, according to a draft Environmental Impact Statement released today by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Washington Department of Ecology.

The project would pump water out of the Columbia River behind Priest Rapids Dam and pump it to a new storage reservoir in the Black Rock Valley.

Rob Masonis, senior director of the Northwest office of American Rivers, made the following statement:

“The Black Rock project is expensive, risky and unnecessary.  This analysis shows that it is not the solution to water supply and river restoration needs in the Yakima Basin.”

“Investing billions of dollars in a project that will return 16 cents on the dollar  and increases the risk of pushing radioactive groundwater under the Hanford nuclear reservation into the Columbia River makes no sense.  It is time to put Black Rock to bed and look at cost-effective, safe alternatives.”

“The Washington Department of Ecology should be commended for looking at a range of alternatives to Black Rock.  Ecology’s willingness to look at alternatives beyond new dams stands in contrast to the Bush administration’s approach, which assumes that large, expensive, environmentally risky new dams are the only solution.  Taxpayers and the environment will be much better served by the State of Washington’s approach.”

Key findings in the EIS include:

  • The Black Rock project would cost $6.7 billion and would return only 16 cents on the dollar
  • Seepage from Black Rock would change groundwater conditions on the Hanford nuclear reservation and accelerate the movement of radioactive groundwater toward the Columbia River
  • Black Rock would compete for funding with other more efficient uses of federal and state dollars to help ensure adequate water supplies and instream flows for communities, fish, and wildlife in the Yakima River Basin and throughout the interior Columbia Basin.



About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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