Monthly Report Archive

Monthly Report

YBSA Monthly Report May, 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

May, 2017


Water Available: The fall and winter snow fall provided water necessary for fish and irrigation in the Yakima River Basin. The water stored in all 5 reservoirs combined is at 96% of capacity. The stored water will be used when the snowpack has melted to supplement the flow in the Yakima River. This summer is the first time in the last few years to guarantee enough water for instream and out-of-stream needs.

Integrated Plan Water Storage Update: Bumping Lake expansion and construction of a new reservoir, Wymer, are still being evaluated. Lake Cle Elum expansion and fish passage improvements are continuing. The 14,000 acre/feet increase in Lake Cle Elum will be used for instream flow for fish. Total cost of the Cle Elum project has not been determined.

Lake Keechelus, the lake along I-90, is to be used to pipe water to Lake Kachess.

Lake Kachess pumping plan is still being considered. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which has taken 3 years to complete, will identify the costs of the project’s construction and maintenance along with mitigation for environmental damage. Federal legislation stated the developers of this project should be required to pay for it. The water available from the Lake Kachess project will not meet the needs identified in the Integrated Plan.

The Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study (Black Rock, 2008): The Final EIS prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation does not consider the benefits provided by the Black Rock plan compared with the respective impacts and costs to provide justification for moving forward with any of the alternatives.

One of the storage projects listed in the Integrated Plan is Columbia River water. The Feasibility Study evaluates storing Columbia River water in Black Rock Reservoir which would provide up to 1.3 million acre/feet of water for irrigation purposes. The water not withdrawn from the Yakima River would be available for instream flow.

If the value of fish in the Integrated Plan was included in the Storage Study and the availability of wind generation were considered the benefit and cost numbers might be different.


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YBSA Monthly Report April, 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

April, 2017


Funding: Funding for the Integrated Plan projects proposed for 2017-2019 are still being considered in the state budget. Federal funding will depend on the President’s proposed budget and what is adopted by Congress.

Projects: Projects moving forward include fish passage at Lake Cle Elum. The Cle Elum project will take years to complete and will depend on money becoming available to build and install the “helix” to allow salmon to return to the Yakima River below the dam from the lake when it has been drawn down to its lowest level.

The environmental impact document is still being prepared about the Lake Kachees pumping plan will evaluate both the environmental concerns and the cost of the project.

Update on water storage availability: Storage in the 5 reservoirs is at 71% which is 98% of average. Snowpack equivalent in the upper Yakima Basin is at 103% of average and 125% of average in the lower Yakima Basin.

It appears the basin will have sufficient water available for fish and agriculture this summer.

Pump Storage: It’s time to review the pump storage project to obtain water from the Columbia River. With additional electrical power, available on larger flows of water in the Columbia River benefits out weight the costs when using the same method used to evaluate the Integrated Plan. Pumping water in the spring and storing it for irrigation in the summer benefits both fish and agriculture. The additional water from the Columbia River will be used for irrigation purposes and the water that remains in the Yakima River will be used for instream flow and fish.


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YBSA Monthly Report March, 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

February, 2017

Teanaway Community Forest: Summer projects:

    • Fencing along creeks
    • Lick creek improvement for fish passage
    • Wildfire defense by trimming and other forest management
  • • Floodplain management along creeks


Funding Update: The Department of Natural Resources is requesting $2 million for operating and capital projects for the next 2 years. Funds would be used to support fish and wildlife restoration which is one of the objectives of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan.

Proposed State Budget Requests: The State Department of Ecology 2017-2019 state budget proposal for funding the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan include:

  • Habitat at $5.4 million
  • Fish passage at Cle Elum Dam $9 million and Clear Lake Dam $1.5 million
  • Structural and operational modifications: Cle Elum poos raise $3 million
  • Surface water storage: Lake Kachees drawdown $2.4 million and Wymer or Bumping $3 million
  • Groundwater storage $1.1 million
  • Water conservation: Ag projects $5 million and municipal and domestic $0.1 million
  • General support for market and banking $0.6 million

Total requested $31.1 million

The Department of Natural Resources requested $1.5 million

Update on Water Storage and Availability: Storage in the 5 reservoirs is at 62% which is 100% of average. Water available in the snowpack above the reservoirs is estimated to be able to fill all 5 reservoirs.

Snow water equivalent for the Upper Yakima Basin is at 105% of average and the lower basin is at 108% of average.

The new updated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Lake Kachess pumping plan is expected to be available by June 1st. Many changes in the proposed drawdown of the Lake have delayed the final EIS.

Lake Cle Elum fish passage is continuing this spring. Completion will depend on the amount of funding available.


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YBSA Monthly Report February, 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

February, 2017

Water Report: Storage in the 5 reservoirs is at 50% of capacity which is 92% of average (1981-2010). Precipitation for the water year (Oct. 1 to Feb 26) is at 95% of average. Snow water equivalent for the upper Yakima Basin is 86% of average and the lower basin is at 98%. USBR will announce a water supply forecast for 2017 on March 6.

Irrigation season will begin in March. The exact day will be determined by the need to start irrigating as determined by the Irrigation Districts Board of Directors.

WSDA: The Washington State Department of Agriculture report on the economic impact of the 2015 drought:

  •  Losses in the Roza Irrigation District are estimated at just under $77 million
  •  Losses in the KRD was above $11 million
  •  Losses in the WIP was about $32 million


  • Statewide losses between $633 to $773 million


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YBSA Monthly Report January, 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

January, 2017


Renewed Emphasis on Water Needed: The Presidential Election is over and cabinet and other positions have been filled. A renewed emphasis on the importance of the water needs for agriculture and fish in the Yakima Basin should be revisited with the new administration.

Yakima Project Hydromet Report: As of January 31st, the Yakima Project Hydromet system status report (Yakima River Basin) reports that the present capacity of the 5 reservoirs is at 47%. Water entering the 5 reservoirs is 93% of normal and released from the reservoirs is at 63%.

Group Voice Concerns with BOR Riverware Model: A hydrology report on the effects of Lake Kachess drawdown has been completed. A coalition of individuals and organizations supporting transparency and science-based decision making with regard to water policy in the Yakima Basin have requested and analysis of the reliability and validity of the BOR Riverware Model software for predicting claims of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. This analysis is now available and should be an agenda item for presentation and discussion at the next YBIP Workgroup Meeting.


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YBSA Monthly Report December, 2016

YBSA Monthly Report

December, 2016


Water for the Yakima Basin: As of December 31st, the Yakima River Basin water storage system (Keechelus, Kachess, Cle Elum, Bumping, & Rimrock) is at 46% of capacity which is at 109% of capacity for this time of year. Perception at the 5 reservoirs is 26.71 inches which is 79% of average. Snow water equivalent for the Upper Yakima Basin is 92% of average and the Lower Yakima Basin is at 96%.

Water Needs for Agriculture: A study by Washington State University projecting future water needs for agriculture in the Columbia River Basin is due for publication in early 2017. The study will report an increased water supply between November and May. More precipitation will fall as rain in the winter, and the snow that does accumulate will melt earlier in the spring. In the fall and summer, when flows are low, farmers will interruptible water rights may have their use curtailed more often.

Grants for Salmon Recovery: The Washington State Salmon Recovery Board has recently awarded $697,930 of the $14.6 million distributed statewide to Kittitas County. The projects funded will be for habitat restoration to help salmon recovery. The complete story can be found in the December 22nd issue of the Northern Kittitas County Tribune.

YBSA wishes everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!


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YBSA Monthly Report November, 2016

YBSA Monthly Report

November, 2016

Water Supply Predictions: A portion of the report prepared by the Office of Columbia River (OCR) describes the long term water supply and demand forecast for the Columbia Basin. This report also includes the Yakima River Basin in its predictions

The average annual seasonality for supply through 2025 shows a decrease of 10% between June and October and an increase of 30% between March and May. Temperatures will continue to rise 2½ degrees through 2050. The study also shows a decline in ground water in the deep aquifer of 10 feet per year.

Cle Elum Dam Fish Passage: The Phase 1 construction contract for an access road and bridge was completed in November 2016. The Phase 2 construction contract for a portion of the juvenile fish passage facility was awarded in July 2016, and work will begin March 2017.

The juvenile fish passage facility has an innovative helix design to transport juvenile fish downstream over 63 feet of fluctuation in the reservoir. The upstream adult passage facility currently includes trap-and-haul in which the fish would be hauled in a fish transport truck for release in the Cle Elum Reservoir or upstream tributaries.

Lake Kachess Drawdown Project: A KDRPP and KKC Supplemental Draft EIS is being prepared for release in 2017. A supplemental draft EIS (SID EIS) will include new information that had been gathered since release of the Draft EIS in January 2015 regarding project impacts, as well as updated information on the proposed Bull Trout Enhancement.

A new estimate of costs for the complete Kachess drawdown project should be included.

Bull Trout Passage: Bull Trout fish passage facilities at Lake Kachess and Clear Creek Dam continues to be evaluated.


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YBSA Monthly Report October, 2016

YBSA Monthly Report

October, 2016

Growing Season: Another successful growing season has been completed in the Yakima Basin. Irrigation water was available through the summer and fall. Snowpack in the Cascade Mountains again provided the water necessary to supplement the amount of storage. Snowpack provides 2/3 of the water necessary for instream flow (fish) and out of stream use (agriculture). Every year the snow in the mountains is our 6th reservoir. This winter’s snowpack will determine the amount of water available for 2017.

Integrated Plan Storage & Mitigation: The Integrated Plan storage projects continue to be studied. A number of fish passage projects and acquisition of land for preservation have been completed. The estimated cost for construction, operation, and mitigation have not been presented. The 5 proposed storage projects have to identify the costs and explain how and who will pay for them. Mitigation means additional money has to be spent to maintain the environmental and personal losses that would be destroyed by building or increasing the size of the reservoirs.

Lake Cle Elum Fish Passage: The Lake Cle Elum fish passage project is moving forward. The road and bridge to access the west side of the Cle Elum River below the spillway is nearly complete at an estimated cost of $4.5 million. The helix fish passage facility would allow juvenile salmon to escape the lake. The trap and haul facility would catch the salmon in the river below the dam and haul the salmon to the lake. The estimated completion time is approximately 3 years with costs still to be determined.

Salmonids from the Columbia River: A plan to improve the movement of salmonids from the Columbia River through the lower Yakima River is to be developed to assist the salmonids to reach the upper reaches of the Yakima River to Spawn.

YBSA Monthly Report September, 2016

YBSA Monthly Report

September, 2016

Water Availability: The Yakima River Basin economy continued to prosper with another year with water available for out-of-stream use (agriculture) and instream use (fish). There is approximately 27% (289,484 acre/feet) storage capacity of water remaining in the storage system. At the end of the irrigation season the water remaining in the reservoirs will be carried over to help in providing the water needed in 2017. The Bureau of Reclamation is predicting carry over in the 200,000 to 300,000 acre/feet range. The 30 year carryover average is about 270,000 acre/fee.

Environmental Impact Statements: The Department of Ecology (DOE) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) continues to prepare two Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) one for Lake Kachess drawdown of 200,000 acre/feet with a floating pumping plant. It also includes a pipeline from Lake Keechelus to Lake Kachess to supplement Kachess water when it is available. The other proposed reservoir, Wymer, located in the Yakima River Canyon will be evaluating the construction of 2 dams and 160,000 acre/feet of water in the Yakima Canyon.

Water Conservation: The water conservation programs are continuing in the Yakima Basin. The purpose of conservation is to supplement the water available from the 5 storage reservoirs. The effect of the conservation program on the thousands of domestic wells and ground water return flow to the Yakima River should be evaluated.

Fish Hatchery: The Cle Elum fish hatchery has been operated now for 20 years. The spring chinook hatchery has hatched and released 11.5 million smolts into the basin. Recently 617 adults have been caught at Roza Dam and transported to the Cle Elum Hatchery this year.

Washington State Budget Request: $31.1 million has been requested for the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan in the Washington State Capital Budget for 2017-2019. It includes $5.4 million to continue evaluation of the surface storage projects. The estimated cost to complete these 4 storage projects included in the Integrated Plan is $3.8 billion over 30 years.


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YBSA Monthly Report August, 2016

YBSA Monthly Report

August, 2016

Reservoirs and Flip-Flop: The 5 reservoirs are at 43% of capacity with 1½ months remaining in the irrigation season. The flip-flop has begun which reduces the volume of water being released from Lake Cle Elum and increases the volume released from Rimrock Lake. The purpose of the flip-flop is to protect the areas where salmon spawn in the Cle Elum River.

Water Volumes: The volume of water entering the 5 reservoirs at this time is 637 cfs, releases from the reservoirs is 4379 cfs and the volume of water in the Yakima River below Prosser is 421 cfs.

Budget: The proposed budget request in the Washington State Capital Budget for 2017-2019 is $31.1 million. The request includes $5.4 million for surface storage. The proposed use is $2.4 million for Lake Kachess pumping project, and $3 million for the review of the Wymer and Bumping Reservoir projects.

YBSA Request: Yakima Basin Storage Alliance has requested the Bureau of Reclamation review the amount of water available in each of the proposed storage projects included in the Integrated Plan. The review should include the moderate adverse climate change scenario, and the historic hydrograph from the RiverWare model output. The drought-year proratable irrigation water supply goal of not less than 70% may not be achieved in every year with adverse climate change conditions.

Congressional Legislation: Information on the proposed Congressional legislation S 1694 and HR 4686 addressing the Yakima River Basin can be found at the top of the home page at

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