Monthly Report Archive


YBSA Monthly Report June 2020

YBSA Monthly Report
June 2020

Storage: The 5 reservoirs are at 94% full. Water from the reservoirs is now being used to meet the need for instream flow and out-of-stream use (storage control). With the snowpack being depleted, storage will provide the water necessary in the Yakima Basin for the rest of the irrigation season.

Lower Yakima River: With hot temperatures approaching the Yakima Basin this summer, more water will be released from the reservoirs to meet the requirements for instream flow. Surface water returning to the Yakima River in the lower valley will increase the water temperature which is hazardous to fish.

Pump Storage: With pump storage, stored water becomes available for generation of electricity, agricultural usage, and instream flow for fish. At the present time, with the economy slowing down and the need for electricity lessening, power generation needs have been reduced because there is no way to store the electricity long term for future needs. To store the extra electricity that is available, water could be delivered to a pump storage facility which would become a safety net for future needs. The electrical power production from the release of the stored water would assist the electrical grid to prevent a brownout.

YBSA Monthy Report May 2020

Storage Content: The 5 reservoirs are at 93% capacity. Annually storage is where it should be for this time of year.

Water Temperature Problems with Eastern Washington Rivers: Instream flow and warm water in the lower Yakima River is a concern for the survival of salmonoids during the hot summer months. An analysis of heat pollution in the Columbia River by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that temperatures always have spiked in the rivers at times in the summer, even before the dams. But today, the effects of the dams combined with the cumulative effects of climate change, push temperatures in the Columbia and lower Snake Rivers over the stated maximum temperature of 68° for weeks on end, the EPA found.

The Yakima Basin Storage Alliance (YBSA) has been emphasizing the need to increase flow in the Yakima River to reduce the temperatures in the lower Yakima River to improve fish runs and survival.

Cle Elum Fish Passage Project: The fish passage project at Lake Cle Elum Dam will continue to move forward again in July. The tunnel to move fish from the lake to the Cle Elum River and the Helix still must be installed.

Columbia River Solution: Providing water from the Columbia River to the Yakima Basin for irrigation would help solve the problem of high-water temperature and provide additional instream for in the Yakima River.

With the additional water available from the Columbia River in the Yakima Basin the Bureau of Reclamation could manage the instream flow which could create a more normal flow in the Yakima River creating a more stable river for instream (fish) and out of stream (agriculture) use.

YBSA Monthly Report April 2020

Storage: Reservoirs are at 70% capacity, which is a little less than average at this time of the year. The reservoirs (lake) are filling with water at a much faster rate than the amount of water being released. Snow water equivalent in the upper basin is at 77% ana 97% in the lower basin.

Lake Cle Elum: Along with the work that is continuing on the hole to install the Helix, other projects need to be completed prior to increasing the size of the lake.

Sockeye Update: Primary results from the first year’s study found very low migration moving up the Yakima River due to high water temperature in the lower river.

Lake Kachess Pumping Plant: The project with Roza Irrigation District working along with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Ecology is currently developing a new proposed action. One question needs to be addressed: who gets water when Lake Kachess does not fill?

Habitat: Habitat improvement in the Yakima Basin continues along in the river’s mainstream flood plain enhancement and tributary improvements. Improvements can only be successful when the Yakima Basin has adequate instream flow for fish and additional water for irrigation:

Yakima Basin Storage Alliance appreciates all the efforts made during this difficult time. Stay home, stay safe . . . We are all in this together!

YBSA Monthly Report March 2020

Storage: The 5 reservoirs are at 63% full. As on April 1st, the water graph shows the reservoirs are slightly above average. The graph indicates that reservoirs fill rapidly from April through June providing the snowpack will be large enough to provide the water. The reservoirs hold 1 million acre/feet of water and the snowpack must provide an additional 2 million acre/feet to provide the needed water for instream flow (fish) and out of stream use (agriculture).

Projects in the Yakima Basin:
• Lake Kachess pumping plan is still being studied awaiting information on cost and available water.
• Lake Cle Elum fish passage continues with the Helix Project still moving forward.
• Continued improvement of habitat in rivers and streams for fish passage.

Lower Yakima River: Flows in the Yakima River are lower than needed for salmonoids to survive and move up stream. Low flows and summer hot temperatures are a deadly combination for the survival of salmonoids.

Columbia River Water for the Yakima Basin: The study evaluating the use of Columbia River water for the Yakima Basin was completed in 2008. It was labeled as the Yakima River Water Storage Feasibility Study. The following information was available for review by affected residents:

Availability of Columbia River Water – In the May 2002 Black Rock Reservoir Study Report, Washington Infrastructure Services (WIS) assumed Columbia River water was available for pumping whenever flows at Priest Rapids exceeded 130,000 cfs or spills occurred. On this basis, WIS concluded diversion could take place only in April, May, and June. Sizing of the Columbia River pumping plant and Black Rock Reservoir was based on these criteria plus various assumptions on water demand in the Yakima River basin.

Based on pending water right adjudication activities, the authorized maximum water deliveries for the two divisions for April through October is estimated as follow:

Roza375,000 acre-feet0 acre-feet375,000 acre-feet
Sunnyside119,000 acre-feet316,00 acre-feet435,000 acre-feet
Total494,000 acre-feet316,000 acre-feet810,000 acre-feet

Solely for illustration purposes, assume Sunnyside and/or Roza are fully served from a Black Rock project and their Yakima River water is exchanged for other Yakima basin uses in the following sequence (1) for instream flow purposes in wet and average years, and (2) for
irrigation purposes to all other proratables (which total 790,000 acre-feet) to provide a maximum 70 percent supply in dry years.

A Roza and Sunnyside exchange would meet the 70 percent criterion plus make 240,000 acre-feet available for non-irrigation uses. In wet and average water years, and additional 810,000 acre-feet would be available for non-irrigation uses.

YBSA Monthly Report February 2020

Storage: The 5 reservoirs are at 60% full. As on March 1st, the water graph shows the reservoirs are slightly above average. The graph indicates that reservoirs fill rapidly from April through June providing the snowpack will be large enough to provide the water. The reservoirs hold 1 million acre/feet of water and the snowpack must provide 2 million acre/feet to provide the needed water for instream flow (fish) and out of stream use (agriculture).

Project Updates Yakima Basin: The Lake Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant Environmental Impact Statement process continues. With climate change and question on how the project will be funded, when will a decision be made?

Lake Cle Elum Fish Passage construction continues on the Helix project to allow fish to move from the Lake to the River below the Dam. The fish that return up the river are caught and hauled from the river to the lake. With a small amount of instream flow and the thermal barrier there is a great need for more water in the Yakima River.

Pump Storage Project: The future needs for electrical power generation will increase tremendously in the next 20 years. The reduction of the carbon footprint means that additional generation sources will be necessary. Wind turbines, solar, nuclear plants, and waterpower generation are the most viable sources.

A new pump storage reservoir in the Yakima Basin would provide power generation, provide water for irrigation, allow water in the Yakima River to be used for instream flow (fish), create a large lake for recreation purposes, and have water available for fire control. See the Bureau of Reclamation Study Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study, December 2008 at

Lower River Taskforce: The taskforce continues to look for ways to help slamonoids to return up the lower Yakima River. Flow is low during the warm days which creates a thermal barrier, water temperatures over 70℉, makes is difficult for fish to survive.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Workgroup: Meeting is March 11th at 9:30 am in Ellensburg at the Armory.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report January 2020

Stored Water: Storage in the 5 reservoirs is at 39% of capacity which is 100,000 acre/feet less than average.

Snow water equivalent in the upper Yakima Basin is at 82% of average and in the lower Yakima Basin is at 105% of average. Snowpack is responsible for 2/3 of the water necessary for both instream flow for fish and out of stream use for agriculture. The only source of water that will prevent droughts, which effect the economy in the Yakima Basin, is water from the Columbia River.

Projects in the Yakima Basin Fish Passage:

Cle Elum Dam Fish Passage Facilities and Reintroduction Project – The juvenile fish passage facility will use an innovative helix design to transport juvenile fish downstream. The upstream adult fish passage facility will be a trap-and-haul facility where fish are trapped at the base of the spillway, loaded into a truck, and then hauled for release into Cle Elum Reservoir or to upstream tributaries.

Box Canyon Creek Fish Passage – A completed conceptual design for the Box Canyon Creek Fish Passage Enhancement Project has been completed. The final design work is expected to begin following discussions with potential project partners.

Clear Creek Dam Fish Passage – The Bureau of Reclamation completed an appraisal level design for fish passage.

Projects in the Yakima Basin Structural and Operational Changes Element:

Cle Elum Pool Raise – The purpose of the Cle Elum Pool Raise Project is to increase the reservoir’s capacity for improved aquatic resources for fish habitat, rearing, and migration in the Cle Elum and upper Yakima Rivers.

Lower Yakima River Smolt Survival Study – The lower Yakima River smolt survival study was initiated in 2018. The study continues today.

Projects in the Yakima Basin Surface Water Storage Element:

Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant (KDRPP) – The Bureau of Reclamation signed the Record of Decision (ROD) which does not approve implementation of the Keechelus to Kachess Pipeline. The Environmental Impact Statement for the Kachess floating plan will continue.

Wymer Reservoir – Consideration of site requirements is ongoing.

Bumping Reservoir Enlargement Project – Consideration of site requirements is ongoing.

Projects in the Yakima Basin Groundwater Storage Element:

Groundwater Storage – Basin wide analysis is continuing.

Projects in the Yakima Basin Conclusion: Projects continue to address habitat and fish passage. These projects can only be successful when there is an annual supply of water. The Kachess Drought Pumping Plan would not meet the goal of more than 500,000 acre/feet that is needed annually. If it doesn’t fill, how will the available water be distributed, instream or out of stream use? Fish returning up the Yakima River have not increased. Fish numbers cannot increase without a more consistent flow of water.

YBSA Monthly Report December 2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Storage Water: Water stored in all five reservoirs at this time is at 26% of average or 170,000 less then normal. Lake Cle Elum, our largest reservoir, is at 18% of average. Snow water equivalent in the upper basin is at 39% and the lower basin is at 58%. A big snow event in February like last year could prevent a drought in the summer and fall of 2020.

Lake Kachess Pumping Project: The Bureau of Reclamation has promised a record of decision on the Lake Kachess Pumping Project but is now waiting for the Roza Irrigation District to make a statement on the project. The Bureau of Reclamation is required by law to determine what needs to be addressed environmentally and what must be accomplished.

Yakama Nation: Congratulations to the Yakama Nation on the successful completion of the Coho Salmon Hatchery near Ellensburg. Additionally, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation has received $414,000 of state grant money for habitat restoration projects to aid with recovery efforts for Steelhead Trout. The funds were awarded to the Yakama Nation for three habitat restoration projects along Ahtanum Creek and the Tieton and Klickitat Rivers to help improve conditions for the area’s steelhead trough populations, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Currently and for the last few years the ability for salmonoids returning up the Yakima River has not increased to what the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan was adopted to generate. Because the instream flow in the Yakima River has been so low some salmonoids are threatened species. If all interested parties were working together with the Yakama Nation to improve the volume of water for the Yakima River Basin we could eliminate our annual question: Is there enough water?.

Columbia River Water: If Columbia River water was made available to irrigate the Sunnyside and Roza Irrigation Districts, water would be available for instream flow. Successfully transferring water from the Columbia River to the Yakima River Basin would address the annual concerns for drought which effects the economy and lifestyle in the Yakima Basin.

Future for the Integrated Plan: A draft developed by the Bureau of Reclamation includes projects extending through 2030 and beyond. The estimated cost of $750 million includes many projects that would address the needs in the Yakima Basin. There is no plan to increase the water available for instream flow (fish) or out of stream usage (agriculture). The Yakima Basin Integrated Plan goal was to provide approximately 500,000 acre/feet of water. The draft plan does not indicate that after spending billions of dollars the goal would not be met after 20 years. Adding the use of the Columbia River water would solve the problem.

YBSA Monthly Report November 2019

YBSA Monthly Report
November 2019

Storage Capacity: Storage is at 20% of average1 150,000 acre/feet less than normal. Lake Cle Elum, the largest reservoir, is at 14%. Total storage is at 58% of average.

Lower Yakima River: Flows have been very low since this summer. The Yakima River channel has decreased with grasses growing in parts of the riverbed. Fish survival and passage has been minimal.

Climate Change: Weather patterns have changed with storm tracks moving through Canada. Snowpack is crucial for the Yakima Basin. It provides 2/3 of the water necessary for instream flow and out-of-stream use.

Kachess Drawdown Project: The decision to move forward depends on the Record of Decision to be issued by the Bureau of Reclamation. It has been 4 years since the Environmental Impact Statement was published. Why is the Bureau of Reclamation still waiting to make a decision? Delaying the decision won’t make the Kachess Project a better project. No decision can be made to access additional water until the decision by the Bureau of Reclamation is made. When there is insufficient water in Kachess Reservoir will fish and/or agriculture share that water.

Pump Storage: A pump storage project, using Columbia River water, would benefit the Yakima Basin and its water needs. Pump storage projects are operated with multiple beneficial results. See the diagram below to see the many uses.

The benefits to the Yakima River Basin would be
• water for fish year-round, water for irrigation during drought years
• surface water uses to reduce ground water pumping
• power generation to supplement the electrical grid
• increase salmonoid population to the Columbia River
• a reservoir for recreational use

YBSA Monthly Report October 2019

YBSA Monthly Report

October 2019

Storage Capacity: With the end of the irrigation season the remaining water is at 17% of capacity which is 100,000 acre/feet below average. The remaining water in the reservoirs is to be carried over for the 2020 season. The largest reservoir, Lake Cle Elum, is at 12%. At the start of irrigation season last year Lake Kachess was not filled to capacity. With the possibility of a small snowpack this winter and of less water available in storage, irrigators and fish will be affected next year. At present the water released from the reservoirs is 1/3 of what is flowing into the reservoirs.

Record of Decision: The Environmental Impact Statement that was prepared for the drawdown of Lake Kachess is still being reviewed by the Bureau of Reclamation. Once the Record of Decision is released the mitigation requirements have to be accomplish. Then a decision of how much Roza Irrigators will have to pay for implementation the project and the annual cost of maintenance and operation must be reached.

A working draft prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Ecology, and the Yakama Nation drafted March 22nd, 2019 is an outline of how to plan for additional projects implantation in the Yakima Basin. No mention of how to proceed with acquisition of the water needed for-out-of stream and instream uses. The use of Columbia River water is the best solution.

Printable YBSA October Report.

YBSA Monthly Report September 2019

YBSA Monthly Report

September 2019

Storage Capacity: Capacity of water storage in the Yakima River Basin’s 5 reservoirs is 16% of capacity. The amount of water remaining in the reservoirs will be way below the normal carryover for the 2020 irrigation season. Carryover water that remained in October 2018 was 290,000 acre/feet and currently at the end of the 2019 irrigation season only 174,000 acre/feet remaining. Weather patterns have changed and available snowpack which provides 2/3 of the water for instream flow, fish, and out-of-stream use for agriculture. The water supply in the summer of 2019 was adequate. The agricultural community was able to make adjustments, but the lower Yakima River was green with algae and too warm for fish.

End of Irrigation Season: The Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District will begin shutting down on October 18th and Roza water delivery will be curtailed on October 1st, 2019.

Additional Storage for the Yakima Basin: 10 years have passed since the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan was adopted and no additional storage has been made available. The Lake Kachess drought relief plan is still being reviewed and the Record of Decision (ROD) will be available soon. Lake Kachess did not fill completely in 2019. The fish passage project at Lake Cle Elum Dam is progressing with a small amount of water being available for instream flow and fish passage.

The Integrated Plan originally included Columbia River water for the Yakima Basin. The Integrated Plan Workgroup was to consider Columbia River water use if all the possible storage opportunities in the basin would not reach 450,000 acre/feet of water. The projects currently under review will not provide the water needed during drought conditions.

It is time for a review of the use of Columbia River water for irrigation and consequently we would have more instream flow for fish!

The Umatilla area farmland use of Columbia River water is progressing.

$1Billion Montana Pumped Storage Hydro Project Secures Funding: Click Here for Article.