The Department of Ecology and Chelan County Department of Natural Resources released their final programmatic EIS on January 3. The purpose of the Icicle Strategy EIS is to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of implementing a comprehensive water resource management strategy in the Icicle Creek Subbasin. The lead agencies for this EIS were advised by a multi-party stakeholder group called the Icicle Working Group. The city of Leavenworth is a member.

Icicle Creek is a major tributary to the Wenatchee River and is located entirely within Chelan County, Washington. The water from Icicle Creek supplies a variety of demands, including domestic water supply (e.g., City of Leavenworth and rural Chelan County residents), agricultural irrigation (e.g., Icicle-Peshastin Irrigation District (IPID) and Cascade Orchards Irrigation Company (COIC)), artificial aquatic habitat for hatchery fish raised at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (LNFH), natural aquatic habitat for
wild (non-hatchery) fish, and recreation.

According to the agencies, the current water management practices in the Icicle Creek Subbasin fail to consistently meet the demand for instream and out-of-stream water uses. The goals of the Icicle Strategy are to improve instream flows, improve the sustainability of Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, protect tribal and non-tribal fish harvest, improve domestic supply, improve agricultural reliability, enhance Icicle Creek habitat, and comply with State and Federal Law, including the Wilderness Acts within the Icicle Creek Subbasin of Chelan County.

The draft programmatic EIS (DPEIS), which was released in May, evaluated 5 different alternatives for meeting the goals as well as a No action (do nothing) option. Over 8,800 comments were received by the public on the draft PEIS.

The Icicle Working Group selected Alternative 1 as their preferred approach to implement. This alternative is a mix of projects, including automating and optimizing reservoir releases at seven Alpine Lakes; efforts to make hatchery, irrigation, and domestic use more efficient; enhancement of habitat, fish passage, and fish screening; and protection of tribal and non-tribal fisheries. The projects proposed under Alternative 1 are estimated to cost $82.0 million and take 10 years to complete. The most controversial element of Alternative 1 is the proposal to re-build the dam on Eightmile Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

The Final Programmatic EIS can be viewed at this link:
https://www.co.chelan.wa.us/natural-resources/pages/environmental-review

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