The Kennewick Irrigation District has struck deals with two other irrigation districts that will allow it to distribute a little more water to customers.
However, the district remains short of water in a severe drought year.
Ideally, KID diverts about 300 cubic feet per second from the Yakima River, the river for which it has water rights. In the current drought, its target is 200 to 210 cubic feet per second, and the cooler weather last week allowed diversion of 230 cubic feet per second.
But on Tuesday, it was able to divert only 165 cubic feet per second.
The deals the KID board of directors approved at its Tuesday meeting will give it access to an additional 13 to 16 cubic feet per second.
“It eases the pain a little,” said Jason McShane, KID engineering and operations manager. “The goal is to have the customer base not see the effects of the water supply going up and down.”
The Badger Mountain Irrigation District, which has water rights for the Columbia River, has agreed to sell KID up to 10 cubic feet per second of water at a cost of $99,420.
The agreement approved by the KID board extends to Oct. 16, with KID obligated only to pay for the water it uses.
The state Department of Ecology still must approve the transfer, which could happen by the end of the week, said Chuck Freeman, KID manager.
The KID board also approved an agreement that will allow it to make use of Columbia Irrigation District canals. The two districts have an agreement dating to 1935, and there will be no charge to KID.
The arrangement allows KID water that would otherwise go into the Columbia River to flow into Columbia Irrigation District canals and then be pulled back out at a couple of locations where it can go back into the KID system. The agreement will give KID use of about three to six cubic feet per second of water.
KID hopes to pay half the cost of the Badger Mountain Irrigation District water purchase with state drought grants.
The state Legislature set aside $16 million to be distributed for drought relief over the next two years. Most of the grants require 50 percent matching funds.
Tuesday, the board approved a grant application for the Badger Mountain district water purchase, plus a second grant application of $28,872 to pay for advertisements intended to get people to use less water and for enforcement of water restrictions. KID expects to apply for additional drought relief grants in the coming months.
The current schedule limits residential use to 30 minutes per zone two times a week on a set schedule. KID on Wednesday ended a rule that temporarily allowed homeowners to use a hose to water brown spots in lawns outside of the designated watering schedule.
The district continues to allow hand watering of trees, shrubs, perennials and gardens, or their watering with high-efficiency devices such as micro-spray, soaker hoses and drip lines.
The exceptions to the main residential watering schedule are the few neighborhoods on KID water with metered systems. They also have restrictions but set their own schedules to use the water they are allowed.
KID continues to turn to local governments and some business users of its water to help manage its supply, McShane said.
The Kennewick School District, city of Kennewick and its parks, cemeteries and golf courses are voluntarily working with KID to adjust watering schedules to days when KID has the most water available from the Yakima River. That makes more water available to homeowners on days when KID can divert the least water from the river.
Farmers also face restrictions.
Some have left fields unplanted so they can use all their water on other fields. A couple of growers have removed aging orchard trees earlier than planned to free up water for other trees, McShane said. Some farmers also have wells they can rely on in drought years.