Dry Spring Impacts Yakima Basin Water Rights Holders

Because of the very dry conditions in March and April, Yakima Basin junior water rights holders will see limitations this irrigation season. The Bureau of Reclamation’s most recent Water Supply forecast shows senior water rights will be fully satisfied while junior rights holder will get 91% of the entitlement.

“March and April were very dry throughout the basin, with only 45% of average system precipitation, the fourth lowest in the 109 years of record,” said Chuck Garner, Yakima Project River Operations supervisor. “The Yakima basin reservoir storage is 72% full, which is 98% of average. The snowpack is 76% of average.”

The May forecast is based on flows, precipitation, snowpack and reservoir storage as of May 1, along with estimates of future precipitation and river flows. Other future weather conditions that determine the timing of the runoff and the demand for water also are critical in determining streamflows, prorations and the extent to which the reservoirs fill.

“Our forecasts assume close to normal conditions going forward. When it is this dry in the spring, the water supply will drop,” says Garner. “We are grateful that, despite the dry conditions, the snow and reservoir storage appear adequate to meet normal demands, but we must manage the water carefully.” 

If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail gvaagen@cherrycreekradio.com

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