Monthly Report Archive


YBSA Monthly Report October 2022

Storage: The five reservoirs are at 33% of capacity which is a little more than the stored amount from last year at the same time. Lake Cle Elum, the largest reservoir, is at 29%. Inflow of water to the reservoirs is at 423 cubic feet per second (cfs) and releases are at 655 cfs.

River Flow: The flow in the lower Yakima River continues to be low and water temperatures during the summer were hazardous to the survival of salmonoids. Part of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan (YBIP) is to increase the survival and population of returning salmonoids in the Yakima River. Their approach has been holy inadequate. See the article: Rising temperatures will shift timing of water availability, amplifying vulnerabilities in Columbia River Basin over next 20 years.

Fish Recovery: Grant awards were made by a state board for salmon recovery. Nearly $76 million was awarded including funds for the Yakima River Basin. The article about this award can be found in the September 29, 2022 Northern Kittitas County Tribune. Federal officials visited Rimrock Lake to announce $400K boost for a fish project. The article about this award can be found by clicking on the Yakima Herald link.

All the proposed projects would be more successful with additional water in the Yakima Basin. Don’t forget all the benefits that could be achieved with additional water from the Columbia River. Remember your vote is very important!

YBSA Monthly Report September 2022

Storage: Water available in all reservoirs is at 40%. Lake Cle Elum capacity is at 31% and the fish passage project continues. Release flow from the five reservoirs is at 3076 cubic feet per second (cfs) and river flow at Prosser is at 520 cfs.

Planning for Increasing Storage for the Yakima Basin: In 2000 efforts to increase the amount of water for the Yakima Basin included increase storage capabilities in the Basin and acquiring water from the Columbia River. With climate change, additional water availability in the Basin has decreased. Annual supply depends on snowpack and what is possible from additional storage. Instream flow has been minimal and returning salmonoids returning to the Yakima River is very low due to the warm water and low flows in the river.

Planning so far by the Integrated Plan Work Group has continued with funding for more habitat and fish passage. The recent Sockeye run in the Columbia River have not returned to the Yakima River due to insufficient water. Click Here for “Record Sockeye Run Didn’t Reach Yakima” from the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Additional funding is becoming available that can be used in the Basin for habitat improvements and fish passage. It does not include water for fish passage for returning salmonoids.

Salmon Recovery Funds: In the article “Unprecedented Funds Aid Yakima Basin Projects” funding is planned to improved fish habitat and fish survival in the upper Yakima Basin. Improvements are needed but will only benefit fish recovery if more water is available in the Basin for fish passage and survival. Click Here for complete Yakima Herald-Republic article.

YBSA Monthly Report August 2022

Storage: The reservoirs in the Yakima Basin are at 58% of capacity. The amount of water remaining is more than last year at this time. Releases of water from the reservoir is 7 times more than intake to the reservoirs. The remaining volume of water in the reservoirs is sufficient to provide 100% of the water necessary for out of stream use.

Lower Yakima River: Minimum flow in the lower Yakima River creates hazards for fish that remain in the river and Salmonoids that return to the habitat in the upper Yakima Basin. Extremely hot temperatures have increased the water temperature so survival and passage for fish has been nearly eliminated. The runoff releases from the five reservoirs provides water for agriculture, but little water for fish passage and habitat.

Planning for the Future: The Yakima River Basin Enhancement Project (YIP) should spend its resources on improving the reliability of water to maintain sufficient levels for fish and agriculture.

Possible Drought: Increases in moisture this year has not lessened the severity of last year’s drought. Insufficient planning in California has created a trememdous problem for agriculture and lifestyle. Preparations are needed for the Yakima Basin to survive a multiyear drought. The story “Drought persists in PNW, thought it’s not as severe as last year” from the Yakima Herald points out the need to plan to do more than improving habitat. Click Here for full article.

YBSA Monthly Report July 2022

YBSA Monthly Report
July 2022

Storage: The storage graph displayed on the Bureau of Reclamation storage site ( shows a greater amount of water in storage than normal for this time of year. It is at 86% of capacity.

Fish Hatchery: Congratulations to the Yakama Nation for a successful 25 years of hatching salmonoids to increase the salmon population in the Yakima River.

River Enhancement: A project to remove Nelson Dam to enhance fish passage is progressing. The flow of the Naches River will be enhanced by creating gravel beds for fish survival.

Another project will create the flow of the river from the Selah Gap to Union Gap to provide better fish passage and survival. Removal of dikes to open the floodplain to create habitat for fish will also be completed.

Yakima River Canyon: The Bureau of Land Management has purchased land along the Yakima River in the Yakima River Canyon to enhance habitat and create additional recreational activity areas.

Lower Yakima River: The Yakima River flow is at a minimum for fish survival. Excessive heat and warm water have decreased the number of fish in the river. The reservoirs are releasing 3 ½ more water than the amount filling the reservoirs.

YBSA Monthly Report June 2022

Storage: All 5 reservoirs are at 100% capacity. This is the time of the summer when the Yakima Basin water availability is supplemented by the releases from all 5 reservoirs.

Water Graph: The graph of total system storage shows current storage is slightly greater than last year at this point of time. The water intake in the reservoirs is now less than the water being released. The Yakima River flow needs to provide water for irrigation and for fish survival in the river.

Yakima River: The flow in the lower Yakima River has reached flood state for the first time in 2022. Snow melt is currently at a minimum at the present time.

YBSA Monthly Report April 2022

Storage: The five reservoirs are at 87% capacity. The water graph shows a slight reduction in volume in storage. The amount of water in Rimrock is at 57%.

Water Forecast: Snowpack in the Naches & upper basin show an average water content. Snow melt is the main source of water for instream flow and to maintain an adequate volume of water for agricultural in the basin.
Each Spring, high river flows help to increase the groundwater captured in the alluvial flood plain. High flows of water have not been present in the rivers this year. Click Here for full story.

Climate Change: The United States Drought Monitor shows droughts persist in Eastern Washington. The Yakima Basin continues to be the hardest hit with less water available. With less water available in the Central Cascade Range, other sources will be needed to continue the instream flow for fish and the out of stream use for agriculture to maintain and improve the Yakima Basin’s economy. Click Here to see full story.

YBSA Monthly Report March 2022

YBSA Monthly Report
March 2022

Storage: The five reservoirs are at 85% capacity which will provide 1/3 of the water for agriculture in the Yakima Basin.

Water Availability for the Yakima Basin: The Bureau of Reclamation report indicates water will be available for agriculture and instream flow for fish. The snowpack water equivalent in the upper basin in Kittitas County is at 79% and in the Naches is at 80%. Predictions show potential drought conditions will occur in the western part of the United States. Long range plans need to be discussed to find a solution for water storage for the future of the Yakima Basin.

Potable Water: The lower Yakima Valley ground water area has high nitrates in many wells. The Department of Ecology is contacting these residents with high nitrates in their well water with a project to provide bottled water to the residents affected. More information will become available in the future.

Storage Projects: No projects have been found to be viable to provide enough water for the future of agriculture and fish for the Yakima River Basin.

YBSA Monthly Report February 2022

Storage: The storage is at 77% of capacity. Lake Cle Elum is at 69%. Intake to the 5 reservoirs is at 58% and releases are at 96%. Snow water equivalent in both the Upper Basin and Naches Basin is at 85%.

The Bureau of Reclamation reported that the Yakima Basin water supply is in good shape for the 2022 season. The reservoirs are three-quarters full. One-third of the water from storage and two-thirds of the water from melting snowpack provides the water needed for agriculture and instream flow.

Project Information: At Lake Cle Elum construction will start on the down stream adult collection project to catch the fish returning up the Cle Elum River to truck them to Lake Cle Elum.

A study of fish passage from the mouth of the Yakima River up to Roza Dam will continue. Previous studies show a very low passage of returning salmonoids is due to warm water in the lower Yakima River and diversion dams. More instream flow would improve passage.

Wapato Irrigation Project: The Yakama Nation has been awarded additional water to serve all the lands that were not allocated in the Yakima Basin water distribution plan. The Bureau of Reclamation needs to address this issue.

Lake Kachess: The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking comments on the draft environmental assessment for the Kachess Dam safety project. The assessment looks to maintain water deliveries throughout the Yakima Basin, minimize impacts to the environment, and maintain water flow for endangered species. The proposed modifications address issues important to the long-term functionality.

The draft Environmental Assessment analyzes two actions:

  • Proposed Action: Reduce long-term performance risks by constructing an access road; preparing the site to develop staging areas to support construction and long-term maintenance; extend and line the conduit; and install a filter and stabilization berm.
  • No Action Alternative: Do not reduce risk by performing the improvements listed in the Proposed Action

The draft Environmental Assessment is available at

The Bureau and Roza Irrigation District continue to evaluate the proposed drought relief project which would provide additional water by drawing down Lake Kachess another 80 feet. Once the water has been withdrawn, how will the water flow, habitat and the environment be maintained below Kachess Dam?

YBSA Monthly Report January 2022

YBSA Monthly Report
January 2022

Storage: The five reservoirs are at 68% capacity which is 130% of average. The average snow water equivalent for the upper basin is at 95% and the Naches basin is at 99%.

Project update: No new information on Lake Cle Elum and Lake Kachess progress. Fish passage in the lower Yakima River has not improved nor has any reliable solution been discussed.

Pump Storage: Using pump storage is the best solution.

  • • It would increase the available water during droughts to meet the needs of irrigation water both on the Roza and Wapato irrigation needs.
  • • Pump storage also would increase the flow in the Yakima River to provide enough water for fish passage and survival.
  • • Having the water from pump storage would create an opportunity to recharge the flood plain to enhance ground water availability.
  • • It would provide storage of water to provide a battery to assist in the distribution of electrical power to cover the loss of electrical generation.
  • • The Integrated plan needs to appoint another committee in the planning process to review the valuable use of pump storage.
  • • See for examples of the value of increasing the renewable production.

Monthly Report December 2021

Storage: The Yakima Basin storage is at 60%. Snow and rain in the Cascades are greater this year than during recent years. Predictions for the spring of 2022 is more rain and less snow.

Basin Projects: Work continues on the Lake Cle Elum fish passage. There have been changes on the Lake Kachess pumping plan study. No word on who will pay and benefit from the Lake Kachess water. Evaluations continue on the water temperature and instream flow in the lower Yakima River.

Improvements in the Yakima Basin: Conservation of water continues as irrigators improve their delivery systems. Habitat and fish passage have been improved in the upper Yakima Basin.

The number of Sockeye and Coho Salmon have improved in the upper Yakima River Basin. Sockeye are caught in the Columbia River and delivered to Lake Cle Elum. Coho hatchery salmon are released in the upper Yakima River.

2022 Plans:

  • • Improved fish passage and survival in the lower Yakima River by increase instream flow which will reduce water temperature.
  • • Apply to aquire additional funding from the Federal infrastructure legislation that has been approved.
  • • Access Governor Inslee’s funding for salmonoid improvements.
  • • Decide who will pay for the drought relief project at Lake Kachess so the plan can more forward.

The Integrated Plan was developed, and a Work Group was appointed to address water, fish and habitat needs in the Yakima Basin. Prior to the Integrate Plan, the Bureau of Reclamation completed the Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study in 2008. The study considered all the options to increase water storage in the basin. The best alternative was a pump storage project using Columbia River water. Page IX, the executive summary suggests the Columbia River would solve current and future water problems. The Integrate Plan Work Group needs to consider the information while working toward finding additional water for fish, agriculture, and the economy

Happy New Year!