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July 24, 2015
Yakima Basin reservoirs 78 percent of average Roza Irrigation
By DAN WHEAT
voirs is tracking at about 25
to 29 percent of average,” he
YAKIMA, Wash. — The said. Reservoir releases are at
¿YH PDLQ ZDWHU UHVHUYRLUV RI 117 percent of average for the
the Yakima Basin are right year, he said.
where the U.S. Bureau of
The plan, he said, is to
Reclamation wants them to draw down Keechelus and Cle
be, given the state’s drought.
Elum soonest to allow lower
Barring another extended ÀRZVDQGVKDOORZDUHDVLQWKH
heat wave, the agency should Yakima River upriver from
make it through the irrigation the Teanaway River through
season and begin storing wa- Easton and including the Cle
ter in the fall and winter for Elum River by mid-Septem-
next year, says Quentin Kreu- EHUWRDOORZ¿VKVSDZQLQJ
ter, the bureau’s river operator
From that point forward,
more water is used from Rim-
In a normal year, about rock and Bumping lakes to
250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet serve irrigators in the Yakima
of water are left in the reser- Valley, he said. The Roza Irriga-
voirs at the end of the irriga- tion District, a junior water right
tion season in late October to district, hopes to have water to
begin storing for the next sea- the end of September. Normally,
son, Kreuter said.
it goes to Oct. 20 for tree fruit,
“In this drought year, our hop and grape growers.
target number is 135,000
The Kittitas Reclamation
acre-feet,” he said.
District, serving a good por-
That means if next winter tion of the valley around El-
is another dry one, the Yakima lensburg, will quit delivery-
Basin will be in big trouble.
ing water to growers in early
“I don’t want to think August. While the Roza saved
about that. We don’t have water early in the season for
enough storage for one sea- later, the KRD used water
son,” he said.
$WIXOOSRROWKH¿YHUHVHU- and growers are forgoing a
voirs store a little more than 1 second-cutting.
million acre-feet of water, but
Cooler weather and less
there’s 2.2 million acre-feet evaporation the middle week
of water rights on the system of July reduced water usage
annually, he said. Typically, and enabled the bureau to al-
snowpack melt not retained low the KRD, Roza and other
in the reservoirs makes up the junior water right-holders 46
difference in spring and ear- instead of 44 percent of av-
ly summer runoff. This year, erage water supply, Kreuter
there was next to none. Res- said. The bureau likely will
ervoir usage began in mid- hold it there unless there’s an-
April, two months early.
other long, hot streak, he said.
As of July 15, Keechelus
“That means a lot to farm-
Lake, the reservoir along In- ers. It maybe gives them an-
terstate 90 just east of Sno- other week of water,” he said.
qualmie Pass, was 41 percent
At the end of the irriga-
full. The other four reservoirs tion season, Cle Elum Lake
were: Kachess, 73 percent; could be at 135,000 acre-feet,
Cle Elum, 52 percent; Bump- Keechelus at 30,000 acre-feet
ing, 83 percent and Rimrock, and Kachess at 50,000 acre-
feet, or somewhere around
Combined they were at 63 20 to 25 percent for all three,
percent of capacity and 78 Kreuter said. Then the push
percent of the 30-year aver- will be on to save water for
age for this time of year from next year.
1981 to 2010, Kreuter said.
“We will tighten up as
³2XU LQÀRZ WR WKH UHVHU- much as we can and hope and
District growers get
small water bump
By DAN WHEAT
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
Keechelus Lake Dam near Snoqualmie Pass is shown at 61 per-
cent full on June 14. One month later, it was 41 percent full. This
Yakima Basin in Washington state.
pray for a wet, cold winter,” reservoirs early. We saw this
he said. “What helped this coming. If we hadn’t, we’d
\HDUZDVWKDWZH¿OOHGXSWKH have been in worse trouble.”
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. —
The Roza Irrigation District
has increased water deliveries
and still hopes to have water for
growers through September.
The district, serving
72,000 acres of farmland in
the Yakima Valley, shut down
deliveries from May 11 to
June 1 to save water for later
in the season.
The district normally pro-
vides 7.1 gallons of water per
minute per acre to growers but
this year cut that to 1.8 gallons
per minute because of drought.
It increased deliveries to 2.7
gallons per minute from June
29 through July 12 and to 3.0
gallons per minute for July 13
through Sept. 12 because of hot
weather. It plans to return to 1.8
gallons per minute from Sept.
13 to the end of the month.
Normally, the district pro-
vides water to Oct. 20, but this
year it was hoping to make it to
Labor Day, said Scott Revell,
A junior water right holder,
the district was cut to 44 percent
of normal supply by the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation, which
manages the Yakima Basin Irri-
The amount was increased
to 46 percent on July 15 be-
cause of cooler weather and
less demand. That should give
WKH 5R]D DQRWKHU ¿YH WR VHY-
en days of water, said Quentin
Kreuter, the bureau’s Yakima
“That’s a huge improvement
and should help us make the end
of September,” Revell said.
Jim Willard, a Prosser grow-
er and Roza Irrigation District
board member, said growers on
supplemental wells will make it
but growers without wells are
“Some of my neighbors
don’t have access to wells and
their trees are showing drought
stress,” Willard said.
He and some of his neigh-
bors have kept portions of their
operations fallow to have more
water for other portions, he
“Twenty percent of my op-
eration is fallow,” he said.
year and he held off replanting
vineyard he wants to transition
from one variety of wine grapes
“One of my neighbors
pushed out about 10 acres of
apples. You look at the prices of
apples right now and it’s cheap-
er to push them out than pick
them and get a bill for having
them packed,” Willard said.
“If you have marginal pro-
duction, then it’s a good deci-
sion and you can use the water
somewhere else,” he said.
Crop losses will be substan-
tial throughout the district, Wil-
lard said. The state Department
of Agriculture has estimated
drought-related statewide crop
losses of $1.2 billion with most
of that being in the Yakima,
Kittitas and Wenatchee valleys.
Willard said his cherries
suffered this year from heat and
less water. They were about a
size smaller than normal and
sunburned, he said.
“I think wine grapes are
surviving fairly well but I’m
concerned about my size and
quality of my apples,” he said.
“Ten days to two weeks of tem-
peratures over 100 degrees and
apples aren’t growing, just sur-
The internal quality of ap-
ples could be “a major prob-
lem” in storage this year, he
“Imagine what you would
feel like in 104-degree heat
and less water,” he said. “I hate
to speak badly, but it’s life and
buyers know the situation.”
Wenatchee Valley irrigation
district reduces water
By DAN WHEAT
PESHASTIN, Wash. —
About 400 pear growers in the
Wenatchee Valley will receive
one-third less water for the rest
of the irrigation season because
The reduction is the same
as 10 years ago when a board
member of the Peshastin Irriga-
tion District said it could cause
pears to drop one full size, cost-
ing growers about $2 million.
The district’s 14-mile canal
parallels the Wenatchee River
to the south and starts at a di-
version dam on a river tributary,
Peshastin Creek. The canal ends
in Cashmere. The reduction in-
cludes Tandy Ditch.
The district serves 800 users
on 4,000 acres and has no water
storage reservoirs. About half
the customers are pear grow-
ers. This season, as in 2005,
the Peshastin district will be
supplemented by water from the
Icicle Irrigation District, which
has about 7,500 acre-feet of wa-
ter stored in four lakes in the Al-
pine Wilderness of the Cascade
“Peshastin Creek is dropping
quickly now,” said Tony Jantzer,
manager of both irrigaton dis-
The canal is getting just 31 cu-
bic feet per second of water from
Peshastin Creek and needs 50
cubic feer per second to operate,
Jantzer said. The canal is already
getting 15 cfs from the Icicle
system, which is all a connecting
pipeline will allow, he said.
The one-third reduction in
water to Peshastin district users,
4.5 gallons of water per minute
down from 6.75, will begin
the week of July 20 and con-
tinue for the rest of the season,
“We hope that’s as far as we
have to cut back, but we can’t
guarantee that,” he said. “It
looks like fruit is two weeks ear-
ly. We want to get growers water
while fruit is still sizing up.”
The Icicle district should
have enough water to make it
through the season without ra-
tioning, he said. Anyone with
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
Peshastin Irrigation District canal, left, diverts from Peshastin
reduction in 10 years.
questions may call him at 509-
433-4064, he said.
“Hot weather already re-
duced fruit size somewhat. We
don’t need another size reduc-
tion, but we won’t know until
harvest. Pears and apples don’t
look as big as they should this
time of year,” said Randy Smith,
a Cashmere grower served by
the Peshastin district.
Done with cherry harvest,
Smith said he will shift some
water from cherry trees, stress-
ing them a bit more, to provide
more water to pears and apples.
works together and we will be
able to still grow the quality-size
fruit we need,” said Dick Smith-
son, a Peshastin grower and irri-
gaton district board member.
The Wenatchee Reclama-
tion District, serving 9,000
users and 12,500 acres on
34 miles of canal from the
Wenatchee River at Dryden
through Wenatchee to Rock
Island, hopes to maintain a
ticipate reductions, said Rick