South Columbia Basin Irrigation District not liable for cherry orchard damages

The South Columbia Basin Irrigation District was not liable for damages to a cherry orchard caused by a landslide in 2006, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed in a decision filed Tuesday.

Jackass Mountain Ranch had sued the irrigation district, claiming the damage resulted from the Ringold Wasteway's creation and maintenance.A Franklin County Superior Court judge ruled that the irrigation district was not responsible for the damage because evidence showed the seepage that caused the landslide was because of the design and construction of the wasteway by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, according to court documents.

Jackass Mountain Ranch also did not show that the irrigation district was negligent in its operation or maintenance of the wasteway, according to court documents.

About 100,000 cubic yards of soil covered or destroyed about seven to nine acres of the cherry orchard during the June 2006 landslide, said court documents. The wasteway is at the top of the White Bluffs and south of the ranch's cherry orchard.

No evidence was presented that showed the irrigation district knew its operations would put enough water in the ground to cause a landslide, according to the decision.

And the irrigation district showed the wasteway had less seepage than other irrigation channels in the area and met operation standards required by the Bureau of Reclamation, according to the decision.