KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) — State and local officials are launching on a $1 million environmental study to explore building a dam to create a new water storage reservoir in Benton County.

The proposed project would build a 325-foot dam to create an off-channel storage reservoir in the Switzler Canyon. Water would be pumped from the Columbia River and later released.

The Tri-City Herald reports that with a capacity of 44,000 acre-feet, the reservoir would allow officials to issue new water rights and bolster supplies during dry times. Farmland in southern Benton County and eastern Klickitat would benefit the most.

The state, along with Benton County and Klickitat County, are taking comments from the public on issues to be reviewed.

Some say the idea is worth exploring as drought years arrive with greater frequency. Others say the money should be spent on other conservation measures.

___

Information from: Tri-City Herald, http://www.tri-cityherald.com