Well, I’ve been involved in water issues
in the Walla Walla Basin for over 20 years. Most people in the basin don’t realize
that the water supply is limited. And not only they don’t realize that it’s limited
now, but in the future it’s probably going to be more limited, given climate
change. Until everybody has that concept and is thinking about the ways in
which they use water, then I think we’re gonna have a hard time being successful.
The basin has struggled with finding sufficient water for decades, and local
people have worked at this for decades. Trying to find solutions. Ecology’s role
is to bring people together from both sides of the state line, the Tribes,
the federal agencies and the local interests, and provide that venue for people to focus and finish the work of coming up with a strategic plan. Having people understand the other perspectives and having them appreciate those who have
been here before us, like our Native American culture and tribes. The water users – you know, the large scale water agricultural interests. Our economy depends on that. Everyone kind of looking at each other’s needs, understanding other interests and how they, what they see for the vision of this basin, allows
us to begin to put a shape and form to a strategic plan that we hope to get out
of this process, ultimately in the next few months. This is a historically important basin to the tribe, the place where we signed our treaty, and we understand
that we’ll need to collaborate with others in the basin, the other
stakeholders, and come up with solutions that address multiple purposes. But it’s
important to us that the in-stream flows are improved, that community members can go fishing again, and that other people can go fishing again. I am an irrigator out in the Touchet area. We pump out of the Walla Walla, we also have basalt wells. And, actually, I’m here for selfish reasons. Came to try to learn some new
stuff, and walking away with a lot. I’m learning that we all have the same end goal in mind, and that’s to make a healthy water system. I’m a student at Eastern Washington University in the Urban and Regional Planning program. I worked as a river guide for a few years and, you know, I really connected with
outdoors and water, and what it means for the future of our communities and
environment. You know, we have every kind of stakeholder here, in a way. So, at this
last table, I mean, we had a farmer and a city planner and a couple of people that are really involved with wildlife and the environment. I really appreciate that
everyone is in the room and especially we have Oregon and Washington in the
room. This is the first time I’m aware of around water that we’ve been together.
Because it is a watershed. It doesn’t pay attention to jurisdictional boundaries.
My husband and I also live on Yellow Hawk Creek and Caldwell Creek and we care deeply that what we do here is sustainable and not just for the moment. In my mind it’s the answer, is this integrated plan. Because I think we have to look at everyone’s interests. You know they’re people who were concerned that broadening the conversation would dilute the conversation, or would, you know, reduce
the impact. And I don’t think that’s happening. I think that actually we’re
gonna increase the impact. I think if you were in the room, you would notice there
aren’t many people who aren’t speaking. And there are many people who are saying
the same things, but there’s enough diversity that people are coming at this
from a different perspective, and having their perspective mesh with other
people’s perspectives. I mean, that’s progress. And I think people want that in
this basin. They want to be able to be proud of where they live and and the
environment in which they live. They care about it. Those are the ingredients we
can build upon. What we can help do now is begin to put shape and form to this
strategy, identify some early implementation opportunities, as well as
some large scale projects, and begin building a coalition around funding and
legislative strategies for us to go out and get the needs, or the resources we
need to get the job done. This strategic plan is for the future of this community.
And the table is open for everyone to come and participate in the conversation. We
need people to weigh in, it’s going to take a lot of brainpower, a lot of
thought and different perspectives, to come up with a solution for these
complex issues. So, we encourage everyone devote your time to this it’s your future.