The front-page article in Sunday’s (May 27) paper about the Drained Odessa Aquifer was excellent. It was a well-researched, thought-provoking article about the questionable goal of irrigating Central Washington to produce agricultural products. William Vogel, in his epic 1968 book “Road to Survival,” on maintaining sustainable natural resources, questioned the wisdom of spending time and money to make marginally productive lands into productive ones. Central Washington is semi-arid. To make it agriculturally productive requires massive amounts of fossil fuel, fertilizer and water.
Irrigation eventually turns soil alkaline, because of minerals deposited from irrigation water. The ancient Odessa aquifer is now drained due to the irrigation wells drilled during the last 50 years. Currently, long-desired proposals to take even more water from the Columbia River are being pushed.
There are hundreds of other uses, purposes and demands for Columbia River water. Decision makers must consider the many environmentally sound reasons for the river’s existence. The Columbia has long ceased to be a free-flowing river. It is a human-engineered, warming, slack-water waterway; for the main purpose of serving homo sapiens.
Stubbornly, valiantly, nature struggles to maintain a piece of its own raison d’etre; long before the river became “Columbia.”