The irrigated lands and waterways of Washington’s Columbia Basin Project. Read more about the CBP in “Water to the Promised Land.”
Photos by Zach Mazur
As an aquifer declines, farmers hope for water promised 80 years ago.
LAST SUMMER as we stood in the middle of Brad Bailie’s onion fields just north of Connell, the discussion, as discussions seem to do in the Columbia Basin, turned to water.
Bailie ’95 pumps irrigation water from a well drilled down 800 feet. Neighbors have pushed wells down to 2,000 feet. At such depths, the water is often laden with salts and minerals. After a while of irrigating with this water, a crust can form over the soil surface. Farmers must use a variety of means to break up the crust, including … » More …
More about the Columbia Basin Project, its past, and its potential.» More ...
Uncle Sam took the challenge in the year of ’33
For the farmers and the workers and for all humanity
Now river, you can ramble where the sun sets in the sea
But while you’re rambling, river, you can do some work for me
—Woody Guthrie, “Roll, Columbia, Roll”
In the early 1950s, Washington State College and the Bureau of Reclamation published a Farmer’s Handbook for the Columbia Basin Project. Written for new farmers breaking ground in the newly irrigated Columbia Basin Project, the handbook offered advice on everything from what crops to grow to what kind of windbreak to … » More …