After more than four years of waiting, some Kennewick Irrigation District customers could finally get water for their thirsty ground.
KID's board unanimously agreed last week to allocate some of the district's existing water to more than 1,200 acres.
The decision drew applause from the handful of customers attending the meeting.
"Thank you for your patience," said Kirk Rathbun, KID board president. "I know it has been a long wait."
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Some of the 30 property owners have been waiting since before 2010, when KID stopped making any new water allocations.
The land getting the water is scattered, but includes property on Candy Mountain in West Richland and a rural residential subdivision west of Cottonwood Elementary School, said Jason McShane, KID engineering and operations manager.
KID only will accept applications for water from those on the list, which had already been approved by the board, McShane said. An application fee also will be paid.
The property owners will start paying the assessments next year. They will have three years to put the water to use, said KID Manager Chuck Freeman.
Some may decide not to receive KID water depending on how much it will cost them to make the improvements needed for KID to get water to their property.
Some of the property owners already have KID water on other acreage, so have a system in place already to use the water next year, McShane said.
The water for those acres isn't new. KID has spent four years working to identify surfaces such as roads, sidewalks and buildings that have been built on previously irrigated land, McShane said. Since those surfaces no longer need that water, it can be used for other acreage within KID boundaries.
That's also how the district was able to find water for 1,785 acres of prime wine grape growing land on Red Mountain, McShane said.
Construction is finishing up on an $18.5 million project to bring Yakima River water to the mountain. The cost of the project is being paid by property owners through a local improvement district.
KID is limited to irrigating up to 20,201 acres because of a settlement agreement, Freeman said.
Kennewick Councilman John Trumbo asked the board how the Red Mountain vineyards could be irrigated next year without KID going over its water right. He said he was attending the meeting as a KID customer and not as a councilman.
Freeman said KID would not have been able to get state money or support from the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the state Department of Ecology and the Yakama Nation if other water rights will be harmed by adding water to Red Mountain.
Trumbo told the Herald he believes KID will be using more water than allowed once Red Mountain vineyards start using Yakima River water next year.
Residential customers can use more water than KID is allowed because they aren't metered, Trumbo said.
But McShane said KID will be able to serve Red Mountain and newly allocated acres and still remain under the maximum amount of water the district has rights for.
Residential customers use less water on a gross acre basis than agricultural customers, although homeowners do use more water per square foot, McShane said.
KID has metered some individual neighborhoods and also metered groups of neighborhoods to check water use, McShane said. Those meters are typically at pump stations.
KID is in the process of adding more meters to help the district continue to improve the management of its water, he said. Metering individual customers would be costly.
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