top of page


ACEC WA Bronze Award for Engineering Excellence | 2018
Esquatzel Pumping Plant, South Columbia Irrigation District

Located in a vital part of eastern Washington’s fruitful farmlands, the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District provides irrigable water to support the agricultural economy of our Evergreen State. To meet increasing demands within the Block 1 area served by the Pasco Pumping Lateral, the District proposed to construct a new pumping plant that would reuse irrigation return water and surface runoff collected within the Esquatzel Division Canal to supplement supply to this growing area, thereby reducing the need to divert more water at the Grand Coulee Dam.

Realizing that this project would have social, economic, and environmental benefits, the District approached USBR and BPA as project stakeholders. By reducing the amount of water diverted at the Dam, the District was able to show that this new facility would result in less energy usage due to pumping than could be generated and sold by BPA. This resulted in a $1.5 million grant from BPA. However, the grant offer had two caveats: the money must be expended by the end of BPA’s fiscal year, and the plant had to be operational before August 1, 2017.

RH2 Engineering managed the design team, which included NHC, Shannon & Wilson, and Cultural Resource Consultants, and provided construction oversight of the District’s contractor, Apollo, Inc. Significant challenges arose during the project due to concerns regarding historic and cultural resource impacts, pump station intake conditions, and energy dissipation at the outlet structure. In addition, site constraints and limited historical data on canal flows, created additional design and construction challenges associated with the weir structure and Esquatzel Canal in-water work.

Through careful coordination with all stakeholders, organized communication, and efficient project management, RH2’s team successfully designed, permitted, and constructed the Esquatzel Pumping Plant under the tight schedule, allowing the District to not only receive BPA’s funding grant, but also to receive federal reserve power which significantly reduces total operating costs.

bottom of page