No water shortage for Yakima River water users

Tri-City HeraldMarch 6, 2014 

Yakima River water users can expect a full water supply this year, according to the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

The bureau’s first water outlook of the irrigation season and recent snow in the Cascade Mountains have helped ease drought fears for Yakima River water users.

The snowpack in the Cascade Mountains had risen to about 104 percent of the average snowfall that feeds water to the Lower Yakima River Basin earlier this week, said Scott Pattee, U.S. Department of Agriculture water supply specialist.

“We are in real good shape,” he said. “We have really rebounded back.”

Snowpack is vital because that melting snow during the summer fills the Yakima River so that water is available for Mid-Columbia towns, crops and fish.

Without irrigation water, many area crops, including potatoes, tree fruit and grapes, can’t be grown.

The Kennewick, Columbia, Roza and Sunnyside Valley irrigation districts all use Yakima River Basin water to serve properties in Benton and Yakima counties.

Columbia River water users did not have the same drought fears thanks to a good snowpack in the Canadian ranges early this winter.

Pattee said the snowpack for the Lower Snake River was at 116 percent of the average earlier this week.

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