Ground Water Flow Map

WCRD_Groundwaterflowmap.png

 

Wolf Creek – Twin Lakes Storage Pilot Project FAQs

April 20, 2018


1. Who are the WCRD and the TLAC?
2. Why is this project needed, and how will it work?
3. How is WCRD able to conserve water? How much water and when?
4. How is water delivered to Twin Lakes?
5. How does water get to the Methow River and when?
6. What is the role of the Methow Watershed Council (MWC), and how does this project fit in
with watershed planning done by the MWC?
7. Why a pilot, when will it start, and how long will it last?
8. Who is paying the costs of the project?
9. Whose water rights are involved, and how?
10. What are the environmental benefits, and will there be negative impacts to the environment?
11. Will this project result in the loss of irrigated lands?
12. How will the Twin Lakes be protected from the milfoil that has been present in Paterson Lake?
13. What is the risk that project operations will cause flooding around Twin Lakes properties?
14. How is this project different from the one first proposed around 2002?
15. How will a permanent project be different from this pilot?
16. Will the project benefit the towns or other out-of-stream water users? Who decides who
can get new water made available by this project?
17. Who will benefit financially from the project? What is the value of mitigation credits?

1. Who are the WCRD and the TLAC?
The Wolf Creek Reclamation District (WCRD) is a quasi-municipal corporation, and uses
surface water from Wolf Creek and Little Wolf Creek to irrigate lands in the vicinity of
Patterson Mountain and Twin Lakes southwest of Winthrop. The Twin Lakes Aquifer
Coalition (TLAC) is a registered non-profit organization, and is dedicated to restoration
and preservation of a healthy Twin Lakes aquifer.


2. Why is this project needed, and how will it work?
Since the early 2000’s, the water level of the Twin Lakes, and the associated aquifer, have
been mostly significantly below historical levels. This has effects on water storage; ground
water inflows during the fall and winter months into the main stem Methow River;
providing adequate water for domestic wells; and maintaining or enhancing water quality,
recreation, wild life habitat and associated community values. In addition, downstream
water users, including the towns, will be facing increased water needs in the future.
WCRD has investigated ways to conserve water in their system and their operations, and
has found approximately 200 acre-feet (AF) of water per year that can be saved and used
for this pilot project. This water would be conveyed to the vicinity of Twin Lakes using
mostly existing WCRD pipes, with some additional pipe needed at the downstream end.
Water put into Twin Lakes during the irrigation season would recharge the aquifer,
resulting in year-round flow of groundwater into the mainstem of the Methow River.

3. How is WCRD able to conserve water? How much water and when?
WCRD is installing an automated level control system in the screen box at the head of their
pressurized water delivery pipeline. The new system will continuously adjust the valve that
delivers water to the screen box, responding nearly instantaneously to changes in customer
water demand. This automation eliminates the necessary water spillage that the manual
system required to ensure the delivery pipe remained full. The spill occurred throughout
the irrigation season, and averaged approximately 200 acre-feet each year.

4. How is water delivered to Twin Lakes?
The existing pipelines that WCRD uses to deliver water to their customers will be used to
deliver the water to the vicinity of Twin Lakes. Some additional pipeline will be needed,
and TLAC is still investigating the best route for that line. In addition to the pipeline, the
water may require some type of treatment facility to remove any milfoil or other
deleterious substances. The need for and design of treatment is still under investigation by
TLAC.

5. How does water get to the Methow River and when?
Under the pre-project conditions, water spilled at the WCRD screen box flows into the old
Lake Creek channel, where most flows to the Methow River and some is lost to
evaporation and evapotranspiration by riparian vegetation. With the project in operation,
this water would be conveyed to Twin Lakes and its aquifer. Some would be lost to
evaporation from the lakes, but most water would discharge from the aquifer to the
Methow River throughout all seasons of the year. The retiming of the water going to the
Methow River is a key aspect of the project.

6. What is the role of the Methow Watershed Council (MWC), and how does this project
fit in with watershed planning done by the MWC?
Development of new water storage opportunities to support both instream and out-of-
stream uses is a high priority action identified in the MWC’s Detailed Implementation Plan
(DIP)(2009) for the Methow River Watershed (WRIA 48). As such, the MWC, along with
its funding organization, the Methow Watershed Foundation, have championed this project
and led grant-funded feasibility investigations since 2015.

7. Why a pilot, when will it start, and how long will it last?
The pilot project, expected to last between two and four years, gives the parties an
opportunity to test assumptions about project operations, develop a legal framework, and
make actual observations about conditions resulting from the operations. Results of the
pilot will be used to refine lake/aquifer storage volumes and expected instream flow
benefits, including quantities available for mitigation of new out-of-stream uses under
permanent project development. Monitoring will be conducted during the pilot to help
update calibration of a computer model that simulates surface and groundwater behavior.
While the pilot project is considered essential for the success of a permanent project, it is
not a certainty that a permanent project will result. WCRD’s screen box automation will be
installed in June 2018, and other necessary permits and infrastructure will be completed in
time for the 2019 irrigation season.

8. Who is paying the costs of the project?
The Methow Watershed Council has led feasibility studies, with grant funding provided by
the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology). Ecology is also funding TLAC for
investigation and, potentially, implementation work associated with elements of the project
such as analyses of water quality and water delivery options. The Bureau of Reclamation is
providing some design and installation services associated with the WCRD screen box
automation. Once the project is in operation, the ongoing O&M costs will be allocated by
agreement between WCRD and TLAC.

9. Whose water rights are involved, and how?
WCRD diverts water from Wolf Creek and Little Wolf Creek under Wolf Creek
Superseding Adjudicated Certificate No. 10, issued by Ecology, and with a priority date of
January 9, 1920. This certificate authorizes instantaneous diversions of 30 cubic feet per
second (cfs) from October 1 through June 30, and 13 cfs from July 1 through September
30. Maximum annual diversions are limited to 3,065.6 acre-feet per year for irrigation of
about 790 acres.
For the pilot project, WCRD will temporarily donate a portion of their water right
(approximately 200 acre-feet per year resulting from the conservation savings) to the State
of Washington Trust Water Rights Program (TWRP). The temporary donation would be
structured to include terms under which the donation could be withdrawn by WCRD (e.g.,
during drought conditions, or with 10 days written notice). The donated portion of the
water right could only be used for instream flow purposes and to benefit the Twin Lakes
system, and would not allow use for mitigation for new out-of-stream uses.

10. What are the environmental benefits, and will there be negative impacts to the
environment?
The pilot project is anticipated to provide the following environmental benefits:
 Restore and maintain Twin Lakes Aquifer levels
 Restore and maintain recreational trout fishing in Big and Little Twin Lakes
 Restore and maintain riparian habitat and lowland habitat for aquatic species and
mammals that use Barnsley and Twin Lakes
 Water storage enhancement for increasing streamflow in the mainstem Methow
River during low flow periods
No significant negative impacts are expected from the pilot project. A decrease in spilled
water from the WCRD screen box may impact some vegetation along the old Lake Creek
channel, though a partial drying of those areas may be welcomed by landowners and
tenants. The water that currently is spilled and flows down Lake Creek into the Methow
River during irrigation season will be eliminated (diverted to Twin Lakes), resulting in a
reduction of the summer flow rate.

11. Will this project result in the loss of irrigated lands?
No. WCRD is implementing a water conservation project that does not diminish the
amount of water currently available to its customers, but simply reduces the amount of
water lost to operational inefficiencies.

12. How will the Twin Lakes be protected from the milfoil that has been present in
Paterson Lake?
The strict need to protect the water quality of the Twin Lakes and the Methow River is
recognized, but a final solution to that problem has not yet been developed. Some type of
system involving infiltration into the ground, and/or above ground filtration of the water,
will probably be used. Ecology and WDFW will need to approve the ultimate solution that
TLAC proposes.

13. How is this project different from the one first proposed around 2002?
In the original concept of the project to restore the Twin Lakes aquifer, the source of water
was to be from a new well located near the Methow River in the vicinity of Barnsley Lake.
WCRD and its water were not involved at all. The current pilot project takes advantage of
water conservation by WCRD, and the existing gravity-fed conveyance pipelines, to
produce an economically and environmentally viable scheme.

14. What is the risk that project operations will cause flooding around Twin Lakes
properties?
TLAC will be responsible for establishing a surface and groundwater monitoring network,
and will request delivery of water to Twin Lakes only when conditions warrant it. The
amount of water involved in the pilot project is considered fairly small and not likely to
pose a flooding risk if carefully monitored. A key purpose of the pilot is to improve
understanding and predictability of the behavior of the lakes and aquifer in order to update
the hydrogeological project model and inform operations.

15. How will a permanent project be different from this pilot?
After the pilot project is completed (two to four years), WCRD and TLAC will consider
whether or not to pursue a permanent project. For a permanent project, a portion of the
WCRD water right would require a change to instream flow and mitigation for out-of-
stream uses as purposes of use. This could allow some of the WCRD water to be used in
the future by downstream users. It is also possible that a future project might incorporate
other water sources, such as additional water savings from fixing leaky portions of the
WCRD ditches, or water from Thompson Creek. Significant public notice and input, as
well as regulatory approval, would be needed for a permanent project that involved other
sources or mitigation credits.

16. Will the project benefit the towns or other out-of-stream water users? Who decides
who can get new water made available by this project?
During the pilot project, the donated portion of the WCRD water right could only be used
for instream flow purposes, and would not allow use for mitigation for new out-of-stream
uses. If a permanent project were to be developed later, some of the WCRD water could
potentially be used in that manner. Management of the trust water right, including control
of mitigation to authorize new out-of-stream uses, would be governed by a trust water right
agreement negotiated between Ecology and WCRD. The trust water right agreement could
be structured to allow WCRD to cancel the permanent donation and revert to previously authorized                  uses, less any quantities under the trust water right that have been obligated to new uses.
Applying reasonable domestic water use assumptions over the 6-month period when
mitigation from the WCRD water right would be available suggests that this amount of
water would be sufficient to offset consumptive use of over 3,500 residential connections
over the October through March period, with additional mitigation (e.g., an irrigation
season trust water right) likely required to offset April through September residential
consumptive use. Note that the actual amount of mitigation water produced by this project
is uncertain until the pilot project is implemented and monitored.

17. Who will benefit financially from the project? What is the value of mitigation credits?
During the pilot project, the donated portion of the WCRD water right could only be used
for instream flow purposes, and would not allow use for mitigation for new out-of-stream
uses. No mitigation credits would be created, leased or sold. If a permanent project were to
be developed later, some of the WCRD water could potentially be used in that manner, and
WCRD would benefit from the sale or lease of mitigation credits. The lease value of the
mitigation credits will depend on local demands and conditions; a reasonable estimate is
that the annual value could range from about $250 to $350 per acre-foot per year. Ecology
has applied a lease rate of $275 per acre-foot per year under the drought relief program. At
this assumed market rate, leasing the 60 acre-feet of mitigation available during the non-
irrigation season could generate revenue for WCRD of about $16,500 per year to offset
project operational costs and support maintenance of the WCRD diversion and conveyance
system. Note that the actual amount of mitigation water produced by this project is uncertain                            until the pilot project is implemented and monitored.

 

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out