The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association (CSRIA) formally supports the implementation of irrigation “best management practices” (BMPs), as part of an overall water management approach for the mainstem Snake-Columbia River system. The CSRIA-sponsored BMP program is designed for irrigators and water right holders who are primarily “direct pumpers” from the mainstem Snake and Columbia rivers. Most of these irrigators independently hold state water rights, where the production agriculture irrigation systems are financed by private sector capital. Other direct pumpers are composed of small agricultural or more urban-based irrigators, holding independent river water rights, and representing a mix of private and public sector funding (municipal or special service district). The program BMPs focus solely on irrigation water application and do not address other aspects of production agriculture or other attributes of commercial and residential land uses. The emphasis is on an adoption of high efficiency water use practices that meet the production and cost-effectiveness needs of large-scale commercial agriculture, and have applicability to smaller agricultural and residential circumstances. While participation in the program is voluntary, individual CSRIA members, or others, may request CSRIA certification to document formally their adoption of the CSRIA sponsored BMP program. The attached “Farm or Irrigation Site, Inspection Checklist” can be prepared by irrigators or water right holders for self-auditing, and a copy sent to the CSRIA for association review (if requested). For those requesting association review, an on-site evaluation of the inspection checklist will be made, with a subsequent notice of certification provided. The CSRIA asserts that state (and federal) water resource managers and regulators should establish water use and water right policies that reward efficiency. Those irrigators and water right holders who adopt BMPs reflecting high levels of efficiency should be granted more flexibility in the use of existing water rights, and they should be eligible for receiving additional water rights, where the use of new water supplies creates negligible impacts to other environmental resources.
The BMPs for irrigation water management and operations are described below. These practices cover water diversion and distribution systems, application systems and technology, crop-related water management practices, new research, development, and demonstration projects, and some direct measures for wildlife and environmental resources enhancement. Water right holders and irrigators are classified into three general sectors, with appropriate BMPs associated with each water user sector.