Forecast shows Eastern Wash. water demand to grow

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RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) -- A preliminary report shows that agricultural and municipal water demands in the Columbia River basin are likely to increase more than water supplies over the next 20 years.

The increased demand can be attributed to influences of climate change, population growth and economic trends.

The state Department of Ecology is conducting three workshops this week to discuss the report that was required by the Legislature under a 2006 bill that appropriated $200 million to improve water storage and conservation. A final report is due to lawmakers in November.

Farmers and other water users in Thursday's meeting in Richland said they believe the report should better reflect the positive economic impacts, such as job creation, from increasing water use.