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:
• Badger Mountain Irrigation District: Will start turning water on March 30. Most customers should have access to water by April 9. Expecting a full water supply.
• Benton Irrigation District: Plans to start filling water lines on March 23 and anticipate deliveries beginning April 1. Do use Yakima River water. About 69 percent of the irrigation district’s water rights are senior and can’t be limited by the state or federal government. The remaining 31 percent are junior water rights that can be reduced based on water availability but officials have not been notified yet for a reduction.
• Columbia Irrigation District: Starts filling canals on Friday. All customers will have access to water by April 15. Does use Yakima River water but has senior water rights that can’t be limited by the state and federal governments, so officials expect a full water supply this year.
• East Columbia Basin Irrigation District: First water deliveries for those served by the Potholes East Canal on Wednesday. Begin filling East Low Canal on March 23 and first deliveries from that canal on March 30.
• Franklin County Irrigation District: will start flushing the canal system on March 23. It will take a couple weeks for all customers to have access to irrigation water.
• Kennewick Irrigation District: Canal filling and flushing starts April 1. Most customers should have water by April 15 but should check KID’s website later for a map detailing water delivery information athttp://kid.org/
. Uses Yakima River water and can see the amount reduced.
• Kiona Irrigation District: Plan to start up system April 1 depending on weather. Customers should have water during the first week. Does use Yakima River water for irrigation, but has senior water rights that can’t be limited by the state and federal governments, so officials expect a full water supply this year.
• Quincy Columbia Basin Irrigation District: Will start filling west canal on Wednesday. Will prime smaller canals through the first week of April depending on weather. Will take several weeks for all customers to receive water. Customers should call their water masters for updated information starting Wednesday.
• Roza Irrigation District: Start filling canals Monday. First deliveries later in the week. Uses Yakima River water and can see the amount reduced. Up to date information for customers can be found athttp://www.roza.org/
• South Columbia Basin Irrigation District: Irrigation season will begin in Mattawa and Potholes are of Franklin County on Wednesday. Irrigation from the East Low Canal will begin March 30. Customers should check with their water masters for exactly when the water will be available for them to use.
• Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District: Will start filling canals Tuesday. Preparing the canals is expected to take a few weeks. Customers near the main canals may have access to water sooner. All customers should have water available by request by April 1. Two-thirds of the irrigation district’s water rights are “senior,” or guaranteed, but the rest of the district’s water rights can be limited in a drought year.