Click on image to enlarge. From Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan
Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan Images
Lake Cle Elum
House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee
Work Session: Overview of the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan; Public: HB 1196
from TVW Watch Learn Connect
Ellensburg Daily Record series on Yakima Water Plan
from Yakima Basin Conservation Campaign website
Yakima Basin water plan gets hearing
Facts Pertaining to the Yakima River Basin
Under present physical conditions in the Yakima River Basin there is an insufficient supply of ground and surface water to satisfy the present needs of the basin. The future competition for water among municipal, domestic, industrial, agricultural, and instream water interests in the Yakima River Basin will be intensified by continued population growth, and by changes in climate and precipitation patterns.
The Yakima River
The Yakima River originates at the outlet of Lake Keechelus and runs for 214 miles in a southeasterly direction to its confluence with the Columbia River at Richland. With its tributaries, the Yakima River drains about 6,150 square miles or 4 million acres. The headwaters of the Yakima Subbasin originate in the high Cascade Mountains, with numerous tributaries draining subalpine regions within the Snoqualmie National Forest and the Alpine Lakes, Norse Peak, and William O. Douglas Wilderness areas. Major tributaries include the Kachess, Cle Elum and Teanaway rivers in the northern part of the subbasin. The Swauk, Teneum, Umtanum, Manastash, and Wenas creeks drain into the upper and middle Yakima River. The Naches River in the west is formed by the confluence of the Bumping and Little Naches Rivers. Tributaries of the Naches include the Tieton River and Rattlesnake and Cowiche creeks. Ahtanum, Toppenish, and Satus creeks join the Yakima in the lower subbasin from the west.
Six major reservoirs are located in the subbasin and form the storage component of the federal Yakima Project, managed by the USBR. These six reservoirs are Keechelus Lake, Kachess Lake, Cle Elum Lake, Rimrock Lake, Bumping Lake, and Clear Lake. Total storage capacity of all reservoirs is approximately 1.07 million acre/feet. With the exception of Rimrock and Clear Lake, all reservoirs were natural lakes, formed during the period of glaciation, prior to the construction of dams near their respective outlets. Approximately 3 million acre/feet are needed in the Yakima Basin annually.
Virtually all of the streams in the subbasin originate at higher elevations where annual precipitation is 30 inches or more. The rainy season in the valleys occurs during November through January when about half the annual precipitation occurs. Snowfall in the valleys ranges from 20 to 25 inches and from 75 inches at 2,500 feet to over 500 inches at the summit of the Cascades. This mountain snow pack provides most of the water for irrigated agriculture and streamflow.
Private ownership totals 32 percent or over 1.2 million acres of the 4 million acres in the Yakima Subbasin. The single largest landowner is the U.S government with 1.5 million acres or 38 percent of the land area. Most of the federal land is within the Wenatchee National Forest. Other large federal land holding include the U.S. Army Yakima Training (YTC) Center, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and Bureau of Land Management lands (BLM). Other public ownership (state, county, and local governments) total over 400,000 acres. The YN Reservation covers 1,371,918 acres in southern Yakima County and a smaller part of Klickitat County. The YN and its members have over 880,000 acres held in trust; only a small portion is deeded land.
With climate change estimating a reduction in snow pack the ability to provide the additional water needed annually in the Yakima Basin for fish, agriculture, and residential, municipal and industrial use needs to be addressed.
Bumping Lake Reservoir Bumping Lake Reservoir
Lake Cle Elum Reservoir Lake Kachees Reservoir
Lake Keechelus Reservoir Lake Keechelus Reservoir
Yakima Basin Storage Alliance
The Storage Component of the Integrated Plan Must Be Evaluated Immediately to Assure Sufficient Water for the Yakima Basin
The Yakima Basin Storage Alliance (YBSA) is a local “grassroots organization” formed to raise the awareness of the dependence of our Yakima River basin economy and environment on a reliable surface water supply and the need for additional stored water. YBSA is in a unique position in the Workgroup not being affiliated with any specific entity, agency or interest group. YBSA is focused solely on the challenge of an adequate and reliable water supply for the future in concert with our environmental and cultural values.
In March 2012, a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement was completed in which two plan alternatives were evaluated; a No Action Alternative and the Integrated Plan. The Integrated Plan consisting of a surface water storage element and six complementary elements was selected as the Preferred Alternative to move forward for Congressional and State legislative authorization and funding for implementation.
YBSA supports the Integrated Plan concept, but we are deeply concerned with the adequacy and reliability of the surface storage element to meet long-term instream and out-of-stream water needs.
The Integrated Plan purports to restore sockeye salmon to theYakimaRiver basinby providing fish passage to streams above the five Yakima Project storage dams inaccessible to adult spawning.
Adult salmon are projected to range from 140,000 to 310,000 at the mouth of the Yakima River facing a summer in-basin migration of 150 to 215 miles upstream to the spawning grounds when peak irrigation diversions are occurring and flows in the lower 100 miles of the Yakima River are dependent solely on return flows from the irrigated lands and target flows over Sunnyside Dam which will not increase with the Integrated Plan.
Recent climate change studies however, indicate that watersheds like theYakimaRiver basindominated by fall rain and spring snowmelt will be most affected by climate change. To assess the impact on the Integrated Plan three climate scenarios were evaluated; less adverse, moderately adverse, and more adverse. Results indicate that increased air temperature would cause more precipitation to fall as rain rather than snow in theCascade Mountainswith snowmelt runoff occurring earlier than under current conditions. This suggests significant risks to theYakimaRiver basin’s “sixth reservoir” of snowpack and the extended period of spring runoff which fills the reservoirs by about mid-June and provides natural unregulated runoff for irrigation diversions and instream flow maintenance for fish through the spring months.
- How will the dry-year proratable irrigation water needs of a 70 percent supply be met when operation studies show the following for two of the three climate change scenarios: moderately adverse scenario of 14 drought years out of 25 years with the 70 percent criteria violated in every dry-year; and most adverse scenario of 24 dry years out of 25 years with the 70 percent criteria violated in 22 of these years?
- What assurance do we have that after incurring significant capital investments the conflict among instream uses with time immemorial senior Treaty rights will not subordinate junior out-of-stream rights in dry years?
One of the three projects of the water storage element is the construction of a new dam on the Bumping River about one-mile downstream of the existing dam. The numerous reports gathering dust in the bookcases of Reclamation offices are testimony to the failed efforts to bring an enlarged reservoir on-line since about 1950. Irrespective of this history of opposition, some are convinced that this time with a different form of “greening of the environment” Bumping Lake Reservoir enlargement will successfully move forward.
Below are several recent articles on water issues in the Yakima River Basin.
Inslee takes important step toward Valley’s economic future
Yakima Basin water plan gets hearing
Governor’s Budget Policy Brief: Governor Chris Gregoire’s 2013 Budget Policy Brief-Managing Water in the Yakima Basin: The activities recommended for funding in the capital budget are:
Complete early action water supply projects ($20.9 million) The Department of Ecology will restore main stem and tributary habitat, construct fish passage facilities, divert power to support salmon migration, increase Lake Cle Elum storage, pump water into reservoirs to improve in-stream flows, enlarge Bumping Lake, construct a pipeline to connect Lake Keechelus and Lake Kachess, modify the Lake Kachess reservoir and create a groundwater infiltration system.
Acquire water rights ($2.0 million) The Department of Ecology will purchase existing senior water rights to provide seed water for establishing and operating basin water banks. Water banking is a mechanism used to facilitate legal transfer and market exchange of various types of surface, groundwater and storage entitlements. Setting up these banks will reduce barriers to completing water transfers and making water available for new uses.
Click Here for full report and updated information.
from Climate Change Impacts on Water Management and Irrigated Agriculture in theYakimaRiver Basin,Washington,USA
Julie A. Vano, Michael Scott, Nathalie Voisin, Claudio O. Stöckl, Alan F. Hamle , Kristian E. B. Mickelson, Marketa McGuire Elsner, and Dennis P. Lettenmaier
The Yakima River Reservoir system supplies irrigation water to over 180,000 irrigated hectares (450,000 acres). Runoff is derived mostly from winter precipitation in the Cascade Mountains, much of which is stored as snowpack and runs off in the spring and early summer. Five reservoirs within the basin have cumulative reservoir storage of approximately 30% of the river’s mean annual flow. Climate change during the 21st century is expected to result in earlier snowmelt runoff, and reduced summer flows. The effects of these changes on irrigated agriculture in the basin were simulated using a hydrological model driven by downscaled climate scenarios from 20 climate models, output of which was archived by the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. In general, we find that the basin transitions to earlier and reduced spring snowmelt as the century progresses, which results in increased curtailment of water deliveries, especially to junior water rights holders. Historically, theYakima basin has experienced water shortages (years in which substantial prorating of deliveries to junior water users was required) in 14% of years. Without adaptations, for the A1B emission scenarios, water shortages that occur in 14% of years historically increase to 32% (15% to 54% range) in the 2020s, to 36% in the 2040s, and to 77% of years in the 2080s. For the B1 emissions scenario, water shortages occur in 27% of years (14% to 54% range), in the 2020s, 33% for the 2040s and 50% for the 2080s. Furthermore, the historically unprecedented condition in which the senior water rights holders suffer shortfalls occurs with increasing frequency in both the A1B and B1 climate change scenarios. Economic losses include lost value of expected annual production in the range of 5% to 16%, with significantly greater probabilities of annual net operating losses for junior water rights holders.
Climate change is projected to impact water supply within theYakimaRiver basin, especially for water users with junior water rights and – in the most extreme years – users with senior water rights. Due to changes in seasonal patterns of runoff, the system is projected to become increasingly unable to meet deliveries to junior water rights, and these increased occurrences of curtailments for junior water users may be substantial even in the 2020s.
Assuming current water rights and operating policies, these changes in system performance may result in decreases in economic value of crop production. Even with earlier crop development, which may somewhat reduce the impacts of summer water shortages, the expected value of production on junior lands may decline substantially as early as the 2020s. Without adaptation, the expected annual profits of perennials on junior land are much more likely to be negative, putting the success of many farm operations in doubt. In addition, the total annual value of farm production for the two crops discussed may decline anywhere from about $23 million to $70 million, depending on the time period and scenario, about 2% to 5% of total current farm production in the three counties that correspond to the Yakima River basin.
for full document click here.
Bob Tuck Salmon Walk
on the American River
Life Cycle of Spring Chinook on the Cle Elum River
Sockeye Above Lake Cle Elum