"The evergreen state" only applies to western Washington because of the rain shadow effect caused by the Cascade Mountains.

Moist Pacific air is carried over western Washington.

Rain falls in the west then dry air blows over the Cascades.

Dry lands in eastern Washington are in the rain shadow of the Cascades.

Crops from apples to grapes, potatoes and hops can grow in Central Washington because irrigation provides a reliable source of water. 

Irrigation water from the Columbia Basin Project is often used more than once before it returns to the Columbia River near Pasco. 

Crop Circles

Many Washington growers conserve both water and energy through the use of low-energy irrigation technology. On the ground, the water is being distributed precisely as it is needed by the crop. Central pivots create a pattern of crop circles from the air.

Water is dribbled.

Water is sprayed.

Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program

Within the layers of basalt flows like these in Central Washington, there are layers of fractured rock. These fractures capture rainwater and slowly direct it far down below the surface where it is stored for eons in layers called aquifers. Deep wells can tap into an aquifer and provide water for irrigation.

Photo Columbia Basin Development League

Building a second siphon at Weber Coulee allows Lake Roosevelt water to be moved south of Intersate 90.

Farmers practice good irrigation management to conserve water.

Good irrigation practices improve crop quality, conserve water, save energy, decrease fertilizer requirements and reduce water pollution from run-off. Growers take the time to measure soil moisture and determine exactly when and how much water the crop needs to prevent stress. 

Meet a potato farmer who cares about water.

The original plan for development of the Federal Reclamation Columbia Basin Project included land in the western part of the Odessa Ground Water Management Area but that phase has not been completed. Farmers in that area drilled deep wells while waiting for Project water supplies that are depleting the aquifer. By 2004, the Odessa Aquifer was seriously depleted. State and federal agencies worked together  to bring water from the Columbia River to Odessa growers. Capacity was increased in an existing canal and a new siphon was built from Lake Roosevelt reservoir to ensure a steady supply of affordable water for Washington crops.

Click on the video to see the beginning of the project.

photo by Heather Hansen

Fresh water flowing in an irrigation canal in Central Washington.