KID to create $1M drought fund

The Kennewick Irrigation District board has decided to create a $1 million drought mitigation fund.

The board voted Tuesday to set aside up to $75,000 annually from district revenues to build up the drought fund.

"What do we expect to spend this money for?" asked board member Patrick McGuire.

District Secretary Manager Chuck Freeman said the money would be spent only when there is a drought to acquire water to supplement district supplies.

Extra water could be bought from owners of wells, from holders of senior water rights and from other irrigation districts that might have water available, Freeman said.

Freeman said drought funds also might be spent to "pay people not to water."

KID customers who opt not to water during a drought could end up receiving money for agreeing to give up their water so other KID customers with greater need could have it, he explained.

"I think this is a good plan," said board President Gene Huffman.

"It's another move forward for (KID)," said McGuire, who made the motion to create the drought fund.

Also Tuesday, the board set Aug. 21 for interviewing four applicants to fill a board vacancy by the resignation of John Jaksch, who moved to Texas last spring.

McGuire will not participate in the interviews because his wife, Penny Hermanson, is one of the applicants.

The others are Dean Dennis, Robert Frink and Dale Walter, who served on the board as an appointee during 2008 and was not re-elected for a new term beginning in 2009.

Scott Revell, planning manager, said the planning committee is expected to present recommendations about how to manage private line areas in the KID at its Aug. 20 meeting, which will be open to the public.

KID hired Financial Consulting Services of Redmond to do a comprehensive water rates analysis of the last two years. That analysis found the district had many customers on private lines that created some confusion about who was responsible for what portion of the infrastructure delivering water from KID's canal system to the customers.

Ed Everaert, manager of engineering, told the board that KID's system was plagued more than usual by moss and algae problems. He said hotter-than-normal summer temperatures causing a sudden bloom in the aquatic plant growth that was the main cause.