Some Mid-Columbia irrigation districts will start filling canal and pipe systems this week, getting ready to deliver the first irrigation water of the season to area farms and homes.
Columbia and Snake river water users can expect enough water to fulfill the needs of area residents and farmers. But Yakima River water users are looking at a possible drought.
Some Yakima Basin irrigation districts may receive about 73 percent of their normal water, the federal Bureau of Reclamation estimates. Gov. Jay Inslee recently declared a drought emergency for the Yakima Basin and Walla Walla earlier last week.
The snowpack that feeds the Columbia and Snake rivers is in good shape, but snowpack in the Cascades that feeds the Yakima River already was limited and is getting worse. Melting snow typically helps fill the rivers during the summer so water demands can be met for Mid-Columbia towns, crops, fish and lawns but that snow is melting early.
Irrigation districts, such as the Columbia Irrigation District, with senior water rights issued before 1905 will get their full water amount because those rights can’t be limited by the state and federal governments.
But irrigation districts with proratable water rights can see their water reduced. Kennewick Irrigation District’s water rights are senior but “proratable,” meaning it will be reduced based on availability, so the water it receives will be limited. Roza Irrigation District’s water rights can be limited.
Turn on dates for area irrigation districts are:http://kid.org/ http://www.roza.org/