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Black Rock advocates receive largest donation ever

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Corey Russell/Daily Sun News
   A smiling Charlie de La Chapelle (L), vice chairman of the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance, accepts a check for $55,000 from Lower Yakima Valley Association of Realtors President-Elect Kenny Nelson at a press conference held in Yakima on Thursday.

YAKIMA - Several Washington Realtor associations showed their support for the Black Rock Reservoir project yesterday by coming together and donating a large sum of money to the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance.

The $55,000 check is the largest contribution the alliance has received and Charlie de La Chapelle, vice chairman of the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance, said the money will be used to help get the word out on how vital the Black Rock Reservoir project is to the Yakima Valley.

The Yakima, Lower Yakima Valley and Tri-City Realtor associations, along with the Washington State Realtor Association, donated the money. The realtors had previously donated $14,000 to the project.

Kenny Nelson, president elect of the Lower Valley Association of Realtors, said realtors believe in improving the quality of life for all citizens and believe the Black Rock project would do just that.

"Water is the basis for sustaining all life and the Black Rock Reservoir project has much to offer," said Nelson. "Black Rock Reservoir will not only enhance, but ensure the survivability of the agricultural industry, aid in the critical restoration of fish and habitat, and will have a remarkable, positive impact on our continued economic viability."

The three local realtor associations contributed $5,000 of the donation and the rest came from the Washington State Realtor Association.

"This (donation) represents a significant investment in the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance," de La Chapelle said.

The alliance works on a yearly budget of $240,000 and the latest cash will be used to continue a feasibility study on the project to persuade Congress in Washington D.C. to get behind the idea.

Members of the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance don't believe all the facts were represented in a recent report issued by the Bureau of Reclamation. The study stated that for every dollar spent on the project only 16ยข would be returned.

"They failed to recognize the benefits from recreation," de La Chapelle said. "They also didn't factor in salmon recovery.

"The sense of urgency is very high," he added. "The opportunity could slip away from us if we don't act now. We can't walk away empty handed."

Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita echoed that sentiment.

"Our water is our livelihood, without it we will not grow," he said. "Black Rock is the best option. This is what we need for our future."

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