Farmer Fined $ 304,000 on Suspected Water Theft During Drought | Washington News


RICHLAND, Washington (AP) – A farm in southeast Washington was fined $ 304,000 by the Washington State Department of Ecology for irrigating 101 acres with no right to water.

Frank Tiegs LLC of Franklin County has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Washington State Pollution Hearing Committee, the Tri-City Herald reported.

Ecology said illegal water use threatened the rivers in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, which are critical rivers for salmon and steelheads.

The farm built pipelines and two 51-acre irrigation pivot systems to irrigate previously undeveloped land from the McNary Pool of the Snake River in the 2021 irrigation season, according to the penalty notice released this week.

Ecology asked the landowner about the water rights in August and the farm said they were irrigating the area and that was a mistake. Discussions began to correct the problem by reducing irrigation in some fields in other areas.

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Since 1993, the Columbia River has been managed according to a rule that requires abatement for new surface water withdrawals.

However, a September 20 review revealed that some of the proposed irrigation practices under the fine were not being implemented as reported.

The fine is $ 2,000 per day for 152 days of illegal irrigation, according to the document.

Frank Tiegs did not immediately respond to a Tri-City Herald request for comment.

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