DU Project Spotlight: Artesian and Black Lakes

Artesian and Black Lakes are situated on a 1,800 acre property owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, northeast of the city of Moses Lake in central Washington, and part of a chain of water bodies situated along an important migratory route for waterfowl and other birds in the heart of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. A 2011 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife waterfowl survey counted nearly 300,000 waterfowl that utilize the lakes in the region.

Artesian and Black Lakes used to hold water throughout the year, but are currently dry or contain minimal amounts of water for more than 10 months of the calendar. Consequently, the function of these lakes as a waterfowl and shorebird habitat is minimal. The rehydration of Artesian and Black with irrigation water under an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Irrigation District will ensure long-term habitat benefits to waterfowl, shorebirds and other species.

DU has so far performed topographic work and produced 50% of the design plans, with the next steps consisting of performing the test holes along the pipeline alignment and seepage tests in the lakebeds, likely to take place in September 2014 after the BOR gives cultural clearance of those areas. DU will complete the final design, with consultant engineers reviewing some portions, because the diversion installation into the main canal is expected to be no small feat.

Construction will likely take place no sooner than October through December of 2015.