Monthly Report Archive


YBSA Monthly Report, April 2019

YBSA Monthly Report
April 2019

Water Availability: As of April 28th, the reservoirs are at 63% capacity and at 87% of average. Lake Kachess is at 78% of capacity. The NRCS reports the snow water equivalent for the upper Yakima Basin at 61% of average and the lower Yakima Basin sites at 85% of average.

Lake Kachess Pumping Plant: The Bureau of Reclamation completed the Kachess EIS and determined the floating pump project could move forward. There will be a year long review period for additional comments. Financing for the project is still being considered and the Roza Irrigation District is considering paying for the pumping project. As of now no other monies are available for mitigation.

The First DEIS of the Lake Kachess Project: The plan was to pump 200,000 acre/feet of water, 80 feet from dead storage below the dam. It also included a project to transfer water from Lake Keechelus to Lake Kachess. The DEIS stated that the water would not be available every year. In Chapter 4, Section 4.3 Surface Water Resources, it states that after using the dead water from Lake Kachess it would take 2-5 years to refill. The first draft of the EIS was continued. The updated Lake Kachess Environmental Impact document has been completed and publicized.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Report:
• Continue working on project to provide fish passage over Lake Cle Elum Dam.
• Designing and implementing improvements to rivers and streams in the upper basin for fish passage.
• Locating areas of cool water in the lower Yakima River to help salmon and steelhead survive during the hot summer months.
• Evaluate possibilities of providing greater flow and cooler water in the lower Yakima River.
• Receive approval of some funding from the Federal Government to continue to move forward on the Integrated Plan.

Report to the Integrated Plan Workgroup: A pipeline complex in the Umatilla Basin would bring Columbia River water to farmland. The Umatilla project would provide water for 3 different areas in the Umatilla Basin. The 3 pipelines each 6½ feet in diameter will transfer water from the Columbia River to the farms. Part of the mitigation would eliminate the need to continue pumping groundwater. Groundwater retention could provide additional water for the Umatilla River. 40 years ago, a Columbia River pumping project provided water for farms and instream flow. This new project would provide instream flow to enhance the population of salmonids in the Umatilla River. The first phase of the Columbia River water project for the Umatilla Basin farms will begin in 2019. Secured bank financing will enable the project to go online in 2020.

The Yakima River Basin Workplan includes a review of the use of Columbia River water for the Yakima Basin. Ten years have passed, and the Yakima Integrated Plan Work Group has not considered how the transfer and storage of Columbia River water would address all the needs for agriculture, fish and the economy.

The question is why have other regions been able to benefit from the Columbia River but not the

Yakima Basin? It’s time to move forward toward solving the Yakima Basin’s water problem for the next century.

YBSA Monthly Report, March 2019

YBSA Monthly Report
March 2019

Water Report for the Yakima Basin: Reservoir storage in the Yakima Basin is at 47% of capacity on March 25, 2019. RCS Snotel, Snow Water Equivalent for the Upper Yakima Basin are reporting 73% of average and Lower Basin sties are at 93% of average. The YFO Manager, in response to SOAC’s recommendation and prevailing conditions has directed the use of approximately 9,100 a/f of water for instream flow. Water is being conserved for a spring release of approximately 960 CFS to benefit seaward migration of salmonid smolts. Water will also be released from 4 of the reservoirs.

Kachess Pumping Project EIS: The Bureau of Reclamation distributed over 1000 pages of comment about the project. They prepared 3 documents over a 3-year period containing these comments prior to declaring a Record of Decision. The final part of the EIS will be distributed within 30 days. If the discussion is to proceed, when and who will pay for it?

Lake Cle Elum Pool Rise: Construction continues n the infrastructure to place the Helix so the salmonoids can return to the Cle Elum River from the lake. Negotiations continue with the residents around the lake on what is the value of the property will be lost. Camping areas around the lake are being moved and boat ramps are being adjusted. Returning salmonoids are and will be trapped at the base of the dam, moved, and deposited in the lake. No time has been set for completion as the financing has to become available.

Federal legislation affecting the Yakima River Basin: A massive public works bill passed which authorized $75 million for water storage and habitat restoration project in the Yakima Basin. Most of the money is to be used in the Wapato irrigation project and the Lake Kachess pumping
plan. Irrigators in the Yakima Basin have said they will pay for the Kachess project. The bill allows a continuation of the feasibility study of propose basin storage projects.

The Bill authorizes projects, but the $75 million authorized will not become available until an appropriation bill is passed.

YBSA Monthly Report, February 2019

YBSA Monthly Report

February 2019

Water Storage in Yakima Basin: The Teacup graph of the present amount of water storage in the Yakima Basin is at 47% of capacity. Precipitation at the five reservoirs for February 1 to date is 27.88 inches, or 121% of average and 108% of the month’s average. Precipitation for the Water Year to date (October 1 to February 25) is 154.25 inches, or 97% of average. Another round of winter weather expected through the week, snow and colder weather expected through the week, snow and colder weather expected. Snow water equivalent (SWE) for the Upper Yakima Basin are reporting 81% of average and Lower Basin sites are at 99% of average.

Current Stored Water in the Yakima Basin: The Bureau of Reclamation water year graph of stored water in the Yakima Basin is more then 200,000 acre/feet less than last year.

Integrated Plan: The Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan has been listed as the way to solve the water problem that exists in other areas in the United States. So far, after 10 years, we still have not been able to improve fish passage in the Yakima River or provide additional stored water. So, we want to see if the plan can meet our goals.

Legislation: Legislation has been prepared to provide additional funding for the Integrated Plan.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report, January 2019

YBSA Monthly Report
January 2019

Reservoir Storage (Acre/Feet) to Date: 200,000 acre/feet less storage than this time last year. As of January 29th, the percent capacity at the 6 storage reservoirs is at 44%. Regulated flow in the Yakima River at Parker is at 81% of average. Snow water equivalent for the Upper Yakima Basin is 74% and Lower Basin is 87% of average.

Climate Changes Effects: Northwest fish letter dated January 7, 2019 reported climate scientists prepare to help fish survive our regions rivers warmer weather conditions in 2015 will according to climate change models will occur every 10 years by 2050.

The changes will have a detrimental effect on the Yakima Valley. The report can be found at

Cle Elum Fish Hatchery: Fish Culturists at Cle Elum’s Spring Chinook Hatchery trucked 478,638 smolts (six-inch yearlings) from the hatchery to Thorp’s Clark Flats and to Easton, from where they will acclimate to the river water in concrete raceways before their release into the wild this spring. 233,745 more of them will be trucked to Jack Creek in the Teanaway sometime in mid-February.

Funding Available: Message from a Washington State Governor’s office Senior Policy Advisor that we do have flexibility within 32.5 million for Yakima Basin Integrated Plan (YBIP) and the 34.4 for Office of Columbia River (OCR) 2019-2021 budgets.

Kachess EIS: The Kachess Pumping Plan continues to be repaired. Three years have gone by without the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being completed.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report, December 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

December 2018

Happy New Year: YBSA wishes everyone Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Honoree: Congratulations to Phil Rigdon who has been honored for his continued efforts to improve environmental conditions, conservation projects, and water supply for the Yakima Basin.

Integrated Plan Water Supply Projects: Water supply, which is one of the goals of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, is still a long way from being met. All proposed projects in the Yakima Basin, except the Lake Kachess Drawdown, have not been identified as cost effective or feasible. Information on activities since the Integrated Plan was adopted in 2013 can be found in a publication “Welcome to the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan highlights”.

Salmon Recovery: 7 Grants awarded were awarded in Kittitas County for projects totaling $1,172,830. Grants were awarded to the Yakama Nation, Kittitas County Conservation District, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, and Washington Water Trust.

Water Supply: The 5 reservoirs are at 38% of capacity. The amount in storage is less than the average for this time of year and quite a bit less then this time last year. Weather patterns and climate change project less snowpack for the Yakima Basin. The pattern continues to provide moisture in the northern part of Washington and in Canada which provides the water for the Columbia River.

YBSA’s 2019 New Year Wish List:

  1. Columbia River Water 800,000 a/f for irrigation in the Yakima Basin.
  2. Water not needed form the 5 basin reservoirs for irrigation be used for salmon recovery and instream flow.
  3. Ability to recharge the acquirers in the Basin for irrigation and potable wells with some of the water for the floodplain.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report, November 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

November 2018

Bob Tuck: Saturday Soapbox: Nov. 9, 2018 Yakima Herald Republic

Water planning in the Yakima Basin, in one form or another, has been almost continuous since Chief Kamiakin started watering his garden next to Ahtanum Creek in 1852. With the creation of the Bureau of Reclamation in 1902, design and construction of irrigation reservoirs became a reality, and in 30 years five major reservoirs were completed, with a combined storage capacity of just over 1 million acre/feet of water.

Today, eighty-five years after the reservoir system was completed, it is painfully evident that the current water supply and infrastructure are entirely inadequate to meet the challenges of maintaining several billion dollars of annual agricultural production and restoring large runs of salmon and steelhead, particularly in light of a changing climate that is producing less snow, lower stream-flows and higher air and water temperatures.

The severity of the challenge is illustrated by the drought of 2015, which cost the Yakima Basin several hundred million dollars in reduced or damaged agricultural production. In addition, due to lethal water temperatures in the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, most of the migrating adult sockeye salmon returning to the Columbia Basin were killed.

Unfortunately, the current water planning effort (Yakima Basin Integrated Plan), initiated in 2009, fails to take into account either the challenges of providing water for agriculture and salmon in the face of a changing climate, or the opportunities afforded by our geographic proximity to the Columbia River, and our ability to move electrical power in and out of the basin. Most critically, the current planning effort does not recognize the pressing regional need for electrical power load balancing.

Instead of looking forward to the next 100 years, the current water planning effort, led by the Bureau of Reclamation and Washington Department of Ecology, is reminiscent of water planning in the 1950s. The only water supply being considered is that produced within the Yakima Basin. This supply will never meet the needs of both agriculture and salmon in the basin.

Vision and leadership are essential components of water planning in the Yakima Basin. The men who conceived the water storage reservoirs clearly understood they were creating a water supply system for the next 100 years. And they provided the leadership to make it happen.

Today, the Yakima Basin faces unprecedented challenges with respect to future water supplies for agriculture and salmon. But there are also unprecedented opportunities.

What is needed is the vision and leadership to provide water for the Yakima Basin in 2100, only one human lifetime away. Nothing less will meet the challenges of tomorrow and the needs of agriculture and salmon in this basin.

Water planning in the Yakima Basin stands at a crossroads. We can plan by looking in the rear-view mirror. Or we can, like those visionaries of the second half of the nineteenth century, plan for the next 100 years. But one thing is clear when it comes to water planning in the Yakima Basin: No Vision, No Leadership, No Water.

Bob Tuck lives in Selah

Water: Snowpack and storage in the Yakima River basin is crucial for next summer and fall. The reservoirs are at 31% compacity with Lake Kachess content less than average. The weather predicted for this year show a small snowpack which provides 2/3 of the water necessary for instream flow for fish and out of stream water needed for agriculture. The weather pattern shows the most moisture will occur in northern Washington and Canada which will provide greater flows in the Columbia River. The solution may be using Columbia River water for irrigation with an equal amount left in the basin for instream flow.

Lower Yakima River: The volume of water in the lower Yakima River is low with areas of green moss still in the river. Additional river flow would help, but with a possibility of a smaller snowpack, additional water for instream flow is unlikely.

Bull Trout: The current program of nighttime rescue of Bull Trout in upper Kittitas County rivers to relocate the fish from the lower water areas to the upper reach to try to save this unique species of Bull Trout.

Lake Kachess Pumping Plant: The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be completed in December 2018. Once the EIS is available, the task will be who will pay for construction and operation costs.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report, October 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

October 2018

Lake Kachess Drought Relief Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) received around 6000 letters with comments on the Lake Keechelus-to-Lake Kachess Conveyance Facility and Lake Kachess Pumping Project. The BOR staff is still working to respond to the concerns. A record of decision will be determined when the EIS review is completed. The total estimated cost of construction and operation has yet to be identified. The big question is who will be responsible for the costs.

2018-2019 Winter Weather Prediction: The weather prediction for this winter in the Yakima Basin including the Cascades is warmer weather, less snow fall, and more rain. The effect on the Yakima River Basin could be another year without water for instream flow and out of stream use. The water supply for the summer of 2019 depends on snowpack and storage. Snowpack melting provides 2/3 of the water necessary with storage only providing 1/3 of the water needed.

2017 and 2018 Daily Counts at Prosser (Jan 1-Sept. 23):

Species 2017 2018
Sockeye 372 438
Chinook 6,173 2,677
Jack Chinook 1,239 195
Coho 3,050 256
Jack Coho 222 33

Source: Columbia Basin Research

NOTE: There are about 125 river miles between Prosser and Cle Elum, the home stretch for salmon returning for Upper Kittitas County.

$76M contract let for Yakima Basin Fish Passage at Cle Elum Lake (Northern Kittitas Tribune, Sept. 27, 2018): The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) announced a $75,967,000 contract to Spokane’s Garco Construction, Inc. for construction services at Cle Elum Dam. The funds will be used for construction of a helix, gate, and intake for fish passage to begin in spring 2019 and end in the summer of 2023.

The project is funded under a 50/50 cost-share agreement between the State of Washington and BOR. The Cle Elum Dam Fish Passage Project is a component of the Yakima Basin Integrate Plan, said to be a comprehensive and balanced approach to water resources and ecosystems restoration improvements.

Work under this contract involves constructing the juvenile fish facility intake structure, gate chamber, and helix chamber from the previously constructed secant pile shaft and tunnel Principal components are as follows: earthwork, cost-in=place and precast, reinforced concrete features; structural steel, metal fabrications, architectural features, and mechanical and electrical features.

Built in 1933, Cle Elum Dam is an earth-fill dam owned and operated by the BOR.

Water Storage: The 5 reservoirs are at 23% of storage which is near the average for this time of year.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report, September 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

September 2018

 Lake Kachess Drought Relief Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) received around 6000 letters with comments on the Lake Keechelus-to-Lake Kachess pumping project. The BOR staff is still working to respond to the concerns. A record of decision will be determined when the EIS review is completed.

Lake Cle Elum Fish Passage: Construction is continuing on time. A tunnel is being constructed for fish passage to return the fish form the lake to the Cle Elum river. The Yakama Nation will continue the catch and transport of fish from the river to Lake Cle Elum. Estimated construction cost is $20 to make the additional 14,000 acre/feet available for fish. Expected completion is 2023.

Lower Yakima River: A lower river subcommittee of the Integrated Plan Work Group is continuing to develop plans for returning salmonoids to pass through the lower part of the Yakima River. Studies are continuing to attempt to identify where cool ground water will be available for fish survival. The study includes a person floating the lower river looking for cool water in a hot summer for the returning salmon to find spots to use the “Hop-Scotch” method moving from cool spots to cool spots and return up the river. The warm water in the lower Yakima River has created locations with floating moss. Cool water is available when the Yakima Basin water supply recharges the alluvial ground water.

Fish Hatchery: The Yakama Nation is building a new fish hatchery near Ellensburg to help restore a coho salmon runs.

Water Storage: The 5 reservoirs are at 25% of capacity which is slightly below average for this time of year. Irrigation water is normally curtailed in the middle of October. Carryover of stored water in the reservoirs is important for having adequate water for 2019.

YBSA Monthly Report, August 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

August 2018

Lake Cle Elum: Construction continues on the project to allow juvenile fish to move from Lake Cle Elum over the dam to the Cle Elum River. Unites States Forest Service (USFS) are moving the campgrounds around the shores of the lake to higher ground due to the increase in elevation of Lake Cle Elum.

Instream Flow: Salmon in the Yakima River are threatened this summer as a result of low water flow and high temperatures. When water temperatures exceed 70 degrees salmon survival is in jeopardy.

Water Storage: The 5 reservoirs are at 46% of capacity, slightly below average for this time of year. Irrigation water will be available until the middle of October.

Lake Kachess Drought Relief: The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the Department of Ecology (DOE) are continuing to review the comments submitted on the Lake Kachess Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and are preparing the final EIS.

Proposed Reservoir: In Benton Country’s Switzer Canyon, a reservoir holding 44,000 acre/feet would be created and used to provide water in dry years to benefit farmland in Benton and Klickitat County. A 2-year $1 million study funded by DOE is starting.

Pump Storage: A pump storage project (Black Rock) evaluation was completed in 2008 and determined to not be cost effective. It provided 1.2 million acre/feet of water for irrigation in the lower Yakima River Basin. At the present time electricity provided by wind power, solar power, and nuclear power could provide additional power for pumping. Water withdrawn from the Columbia River during the Spring of the year would reduce the flow by ½ of 1% of its total flow. Using value credited to fish included in the Integrated Plan would change the cost-benefit ratio. It’s time to review the findings of the 2008 EIS. Using Columbia River water to irrigate would free up the stored water in the Yakima Basin Reservoirs for fish.

Groundwater Storage: The Groundwater Storage Subcommittee is reviewing all ongoing groundwater storage projects and developing a mission statement and objectives. The committee reviewed ongoing groundwater storage projects in October 2017. A review of groundwater storage in the Yakima Basin is being done by a doctoral candidate at Oregon State University. The study to describe aquafer storage and shallow aquafer recharge looks at where we can store the water, how much we can store, and when we can store it. Effects of climate change looking at instream flow, infrastructure (canals, etc.), and reservoir water release are being examined.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report, July 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

July 2018

Water Report: The water stored in the 5 reservoirs is at 71% of capacity which is 99% of average. Releases from the 5 reservoirs is 110% of average. Flow in the Yakima River below Prosser is at 663 cubic feet per second (cfs). Low water, instream flow, and warm temperatures in the lower Yakima River makes it difficult for fish survival.

Lake Kachess DEIS: The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) received all comments and concerns regarding the content of 3 years of study by July 11, 2018. The next step toward a record of decision by BOR is evaluating and attempting to answer all questions that were submitted. A copy of the answered prepared by BOR will probably be available this fall.