Former KID board member dies in Richland

Bill Kinsel, who served on the Kennewick Irrigation District board for 29 years, died Wednesday at his Richland home. He was 81.

Kinsel also was a professor of engineering at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

He was named Tri-Cities Engineer of the Year in spring 2003 by the Tri-City chapter of the Washington Society of Professional Engineers for his work on water management with the irrigation district, his engineering help with developing implants for bones and his teaching at WSU.

He had a doctorate in engineering mechanics from the University of Nebraska.

Kinsel also was an alfalfa farmer. He lived in the Tri-City area since 1966.

He was on the KID board, serving at different times as board president, vice president and a member of the operations and engineering, realty and planning committees, until he was voted off in 2008.

In late 2008, the board was dealing with an aging system of 90 miles of canals and pipe, rising expenses and greater difficulty balancing demands between rural agriculture and urban residential customers.

It also faced growing customer complaints and in-fighting among district staff.

Rates had been rising for years, usually at about $20 a year, and the board before the election was preparing to raise rates as much as 34 percent in 2009 and add a $30 per parcel charge to finance canal refurbishing.

After leaving the board, Kinsel was drawn into a lawsuit by former KID engineering manager Brad Wellenbrock.

A jury awarded Wellenbrock $750,000 after finding he was wrongly fired in 2007.