Monthly Report Archive

Monthly Report

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.

YBSA Monthly Report, June 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

June 2018

Water Supply: Dry weather means water rationing for some irrigators. Central Washington water supply isn’t looking as promising as it was earlier this year. Experts were hopeful a February storm that brought about 15 percent of the snow pack needed for the Yakima Basin would make up for an unusually dry November and December. But a warm and dry May increased snowpack runoff, and now much of Western Washington and the Yakima River Basin are abnormally dry, according to a state Department of Ecology news release. (Yakima Herald, 6/22/18)

Climate Change Precipitation Patterns: The water for junior irrigation districts hasn’t been shut off since 2015. The state has seen a pattern over the past few years where there simply isn’t enough water to meet demand. The Department of Ecology attributes the drop in water supply to climate changes, which are increasing temperatures and causing snow to melt faster, which results in problems maintaining the water supply throughout the year. The Columbia Basin – east of Yakima – likely will have no problems with water supply because it relies on water and snowpack from Canada, which saw record-breaking snows this winter. (Yakima Herald, 6/22/18)

Umatilla River Success: Decades after pumping water from the Columbia River to irrigate with and provide water for instream flow, abundant salmonoids returned. The record number of Lamphree are returning to the Umatilla River which is a great success story for the native tribes. See for full story. Could this happen in the Yakima River Basin?

SDEIS Comment Period & Information Web Addresses: The Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant (KDRPP) & Keechelus Reservoir-to-Kachess Reservoir Conveyance (KKC) SDEIS 90-day comment period ends July 11, 2018.

The SDEIS is available for viewing on the internet at and


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YBSA Monthly Report, May 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

May 2018


Public Meetings: Public meetings were held at Cle Elum and Ellensburg presenting the Supplemental DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) on the Lake Kachess Pumping Plant.

Conclusions of SDEIS: Major conclusions of the SDEIS are as follows:

  • Change in water supply would improve water supply to proratable water users by up to 22 percentage points in the worst single-drought years, raising the proration percentage to about 53 percent of entitlement.
  • Reclamation would operate the Keechelus Reservoir to Kachess Reservoir conveyance to help refill Lake Kachess following a drought. Kachess Reservoir would be drawn down by as much as 80 feet below existing minimum pool conditions.
  • Based on modeled water surface elevations there would be an increase in days where Kachess Reservoir water surface would drop below 2,200 feet at which Big and Little Kachess reservoirs separate and would affect fish passage, particularly for Bull Trout. These impacts to passage of bull trout would be mitigated by passage improvements.

SDEIS Comment Period & Information Web Addresses: The Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant (KDRPP) & Keechelus Reservoir-to-Kachess Reservoir Conveyance (KKC) SDEIS 90-day comment period ends July 11, 2018.

The SDEIS is available for viewing on the internet at and

EIS Issues: The Following issues are not defined in the EIS:

  • Annually the stored water in Lake Kachess Reservoir is part of the Total Water Applied (TWA) for instream flow for fish and irrigation districts who receive their water from the Yakima River. Once the reservoir has been pumped below the normal gravity flow to the Yakima River and the reservoir doesn’t refill, how much of the water pumped from below the normal gravity flow will be required to provide for the TWA?
  • How and when will the Bureau of Reclamation develop written contract for those entities who will be required to address the operation and environmental requirements?
  • The proposed Kachess pumping plant can only be approved when all affected participants have signed and agreed to operate and pay their share.


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YBSA Monthly Report, April 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

April 2018

Water Storage in Yakima Basin: The Yakima Water System reports that all reservoirs ate at 85% capacity. Storage is at 117% of average. Snow water estimates in the upper basin is 107% and in the lower basin is at 104%.


Draft Kachess & Keechelus EIS Information: The Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant and Keechelus Reservoir-to-Kachess Reservoir Conveyance Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement was published April 2018. The estimated cost of the Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant is

Cost Categories KDRPP Floating Pumping Plant (Alt. 4)*
Field cost 150,000,000
Noncontract cost   45,000,000
   Subtotal:construction cots 195,000,000
   Interest during construction    7,000,000
Operations and maintenance cost (100 years)   25,000,000
Power costs (100 years)    5,000,000
Replacement cost (100 years)   50,000,000
Subtotal: OMR&P 80,000,000
Total 282,000,000

*Reclamation and Ecology 2016


The estimated cost of the Keechelus-to-Kachess Reservoir Conveyance is

Cost Categories KKC North Tunnel Alignment*
Field cost 206,413,000
Noncontract cost   34,400,000
   Subtotal: construction cost 240,813,000
   Interest during construction 12,421,000
Operations and maintenance cost (100 years)    4,031,000
Power costs (100 years)        257,000
Replacement cost (100 years)        734,000
Subtotal: OMR&P    5,022,000
Total 258,256,000

*Reclamation and Ecology 2016


Online Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement: For a copy of the SDEIS go to and


Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comments: Comment orally, electronically, or by regular mail on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Oral comments will be accepted at both public meetings listed below. The meetings will be from 4-7 pm on the dates and locations listed below.

  • May 16, 2018, U.S. Forest Service, Cle Elum Ranger Distict, 803 W. 2nd St., Cle Elum, WA 98922.
  • May 17, 2018, The Armory, Kittitas Valley Event Center, 901 E. 7th Ave., Ellensburg, WA 98926.


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YBSA Monthly Report, March 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

March, 2018

Yakima River Basin Water Update: Storage in the five reservoir is at 75% of capacity. Snow water equivalent at this time is 100% in the upper basin and 101% in the lower basin.

Capital Budget: $31.1 million is allocated for continuation of the Integrated Plan, a 30-year, $4 billion project. It includes $4 million for conservation projects.

Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project: The Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project began in 2009.

  1. Additional Water for Basin of 500,00 acre/feet: No additional water has been available. The Kachess Project could provide 200,000 acre/feet if it refills each year.
  2. Purchases of Land and Improved Habitat: Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to purchase land and improve habitat.
  3. Improved Fish Passage, Increase the number of Salmonoids in the Yakima Basin: To date there has been a minimal increase in Salmonoids in the basin. The largest increase is in the reintroducing Sockeye in Lake Cle Elum. Millions of dollars have been spent on improving passage to and from Lake Cle Elum with millions more needed to complete.
  4. Increase Water Storage in the Yakima Basin: Drilling and evaluation continue on potential projects to identify if additional storage in the basin can be accomplished. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the use of dead water in Lake Kachess for irrigation is being prepared.
  5. Review the use of Columbia River Water for Irrigation and Instream Flow: Pump Storage (Black Rock Project) would provide all the water needed during droughts.

Benefits of Pump Storage (Black Rock) of Columbia River Water (2007):

RECREATION & TOURISM: New recreation associated with Black Rock Reservoir would represent a twenty-year spending potential of $1.28 billion. Land values are estimated over $1.273 billion. The twenty-year net present value (NPV) of all cash flows for land and housing units is roughly $1.977 billion with commercial development of $.147 billion. Based on cash flow analysis to NPV, the twenty-year revenues can bring a total current value of:

Travel and Recreation $1.280 billion

Residential and resort development $1.977 billion

Commercial development $ .147 billion

Total NPV of Revenue Stream $3.404 billion

As reported by Mitchell Nelson Group, LLC in Recreation and Economic Development Analysis of Lands around the proposed Black Rock Reservoir. Recreation cash flows pg 41 & 42; land values pg 43; commercial development pg 44.

See Recreation Study for more in-depth information.

ENERGY PRODUCTION: The power market in the Northwest has changed. Pumping at the times of the day when power costs are relatively inexpensive and releasing water when prices skyrocket will make the operation more cost effective. This plan has the potential to significantly reduce or eliminate the projected cost of pumping. The demand for wind power is planned to dramatically increase and with it the need for “wind integration”.

Wind integration would place a premium on the “storage battery” value of controllable generation from Black Rock to offset the fact that the wind only blows around 30% of the time. The Black Rock Reservoir project includes a power plant at Roza and Sunnyside Canal. Also, water can be returned to the Columbia River through a plant at Priest Rapids Dam to generate electricity and add to the flow of the Columbia River when needed. Power plants at the western facility at Roza Canal and Sunnyside Canal and the eastern facility at the Columbia River can produce a cash flow to help defray the operating cost of pumping from the Columbia River.

Energy sales based on cash flow analysis and reduce to NPV, the 40-year revenues can bring a total value of $412 million1 at the western power plants and the P/G power benefits from the eastern power plant is estimated to be $25.7 million/year. The Recreation and Economic Development Analysis of Land around the Proposed Black Rock Reservoir study by Mitchell Nelson Group, LLC. 2As reported in the Power Generation Study by Larry Felton of Energy Northwest.

See the Energy Study for more in-depth information.

BENEFITS & JOBS: The Yakima Basin Storage Alliance (YBSA) believes the benefits of Black Rock Reservoir developed by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in the Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study (Storage Study) grossly underestimated the value that a new storage facility (Black Rock) can generate. With 600-800 thousand acre/feet of new water available in the Yakima River, a large lake for recreation and development, and a power generating capacity to assist the new wind power generation projects, the value of Black Rock will exceed the cost of constructing the reservoir.

  • Construction/Jobs: The BOR Storage Study Report estimates construction contract cost of $2.21 billion and adding (±25%) contingencies and non-contract costs (±35%) bring the project total cost to $3.749 billion. It is estimated the project will take ten years to compete. The Washington State Public Works Board estimates that PWTF dollar yields additional economic activity and that each million spent on new construction generates $2.34 million in economic activity and creates additional jobs. With an estimated construction cost of $2.21 billion to be expended over a 10-year period the annual expenditure will average approximately $200 million per year. Based upon the PWTF Board figures an estimated $468 million in additional economic activity and approximately 6000 construction and auxiliary jobs will be created.
  • Fish Enhancement: The Yakima River has the potential to be one of the most productive salmon rivers in the lower 48 states. The freed water in the Yakima River, because of a Columbia River pumped storage reservoir, would allow a more normal flow and cooler water in the river. The additional water would create more habitat in the flood plain and fish passage at existing reservoirs. Estimates by Jack Stanford, a world-renowned fish biologist, are with the management of freed water from the Yakima Basin Reservoirs and with the use of Columbia River water for out of stream use (irrigation) the increase in the number of anadromous salmonids would range between 500,000 to 1 Million returning annually.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture is Central Washington’s biggest job sector. Columbia pumped storage will guarantee a 70 percent water allocation to junior water rights holders during consecutive drought years. In the 2005 drought there was a loss of almost $250 Million in agricultural production with nearly $1 Billion ripple effect across the State. (Source: Washington State Department of Agriculture) The water made available from pumped storage is essential if the region wants to sustain its $1.3 Billion agriculture economy.
  • Job Creation: Construction of a Columbia pumped storage reservoir and related distribution projects will create 10 to 20 Thousand jobs over the next 5 to 7 years. Projects for fish passage and habitat improvements created by the additional water in the Yakima River will provide hundreds of jobs.
  • Recreation: Columbia pumped storage will be one of the largest flat-water recreation sites in eastern Washington. It will be just 35 minutes west of the Tri-Cities and 30 minutes east of Yakima. With this location, it is expected to become a world class resort, offering a wide range of recreation options.
  • Energy: Energy Secretary urges pumped storage investment to support an expanded energy transmission grid. The Columbia pumped storage reservoir would assist in expanding the energy transmission grid and facilitate wind integration. Pumping water from the Columbia River at times of the day when power costs are relatively inexpensive coupled with the use of wind power generation would maximize the “storage battery” value of controllable generation from the reservoir.
  • Economic Development: From world class wineries to high tech companies, Central Washington business development depends on a reliable water supply. Additional freed water in the Yakima River basin will recharge the aquifer. The surface water would be available for continued rural residential growth without depleting water for senior water rights.
  • Total Project Costs: Columbia Pumped Storage: $3.152 Billion construction cost $1.397 Billion mobilization, design and construction contingencies $1.130 Billion non-contract costs $5.679 Billion total over 5-7 years see page 2-52 Yakima River Basin Water Storage Facility Study Final PR/EIS.
  • Increase of Available Water: 1.6 Million Acre/Feet with 300,000 Acre/Feet inactive 1.3 Million Acre/Feet available annually for irrigation.
  • Economic Benefits: A More Complete Picture: When recreational benefits are added to economic impacts derived from agriculture, increased salmon stocks, energy production, and facility construction, the Columbia pumped storage reservoir benefits climb substantially. The table to the right clearly shows that the Reservoir’s benefits exceed its costs.
  • Benefits
Estimated Value Irrigated Agriculture $    930,000,000
Fisheries Use $    100,000,000
Recreation & Resort $3,404,000,000
Hydropower $    412,000,000
Municipal & Construction Jobs $    468,000,000
Fisheries Nonuse $2,600,000,000
TOTAL $7,914,000,000


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YBSA Monthly Report, February 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

February, 2018


Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project: In 1994, Congress passed the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project Act to focus on agricultural conservation and habitat enhancement.

In 2003 the Bureau of Reclamation began a study of the Black Rock Dam and Reservoir Yakima Basin water storage facility (pump storage facility) to develop and evaluate alternatives that could create additional water storage for the Yakima River basin and assess their potential to improve anadromous fish habitat, enhance the reliability of irrigation water supplies during dry years, and provide water to meet future municipal water demands. The Bureau of Reclamation selected the No Action alternative as the preferred alternative because the evaluation revealed that each alternative: “Required significant investment of federal funds ($1 billion to $7.7 billion) plus millions of dollars in annual operating costs and did not provide positive benefit-cost ratios required to be considered economically justified. The Black Rock alternative consistently met the irrigation water goal. The Bureau of Reclamation concluded in their study of Black Rock Reservoir that the project would not move forward.

Since the Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study was completed in 2009 many changes have occurred. A review of the studies used in determining the cost-benefit of the Black Rock study using the values included in the Integrated Plan would change the cost-benefit ratio.

The Integrated Plan covers 3 phases with the third, final and largest phase included in the plan estimated to cost $4 billion over 30 years. Officials say the lowest percentage of water needed to avoid severe economic loss to farmers would be 70% during a drought year. The full 30-year integrated plan would total more than 55.4 billion gallons of new storage not including the use of Columbia River water. The 55.4 billion gallons would be added to the 53.8 billion gallons from phase 2 bringing the total to more than 109 billion gallons (334,508 acre/feet).

Water Update: The Yakima Basin storage is at 135% of average. Precipitation for the water year is 115% of average. Snow water equivalent for the upper basin is at 98% of average and the lower basin is at 101% of average.

Lower Yakima River Task Force: The task force met and developed plans for improving fish passage in the lower Yakima River. A study was made by the Yakama Nation emphasizing the need to provide passage for fish.


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YBSA Monthly Report January, 2018

YBSA Monthly Report

January, 2018

Yakima Basin Water Supply: The 5 reservoirs are at 63% of capacity. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) SNOTEL reports the snow water equivalent Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) reports the water content in the upper basin snow is at 96% and the lower valley snow at 99%.

Lake Cle Elum Fish Passage: The Lake Cle Elum fish passage project is moving forward with the digging of the $25 million hole in the lake bed to place the Helix (picture below from Yakima Herald Republic)

Lake Kachess Drawdown: Once again the Supplemental Draft EIS for the Lake Kachess has not been published. The EIS process began 3 years ago and has not been completed. What needs to be done to complete this EIS? The irrigation community in the Yakima Basin needs to determine if the project is feasible.

Salmon Recovery Funding: More than $96,600 has been awarded to Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group for salmon restoration efforts to improve habitat for steelhead, bull trout, and chinook salmon and to restore floodplain connectivity and instream habitat in the Yakima Basin.

Mid-Columbia Fisheries received an additional $219,101 for the Yakima Basin Stewardship Project, which allows the group to continue maintenance on prior projects on Cowiche and Oak creeks, and the Yakima River.

The North Yakima Conservation District has been awarded $228,000 to improve habitat and fish screens in Ahtanum Creek. The district plans to place tree root wads, logs and rocks in the creek, providing fish resting and hiding places.

Water & the Integrated Plan: The Integrated Plan objective for providing more than 500,000 acre/feet of additional water for the Yakima Basin began in 2008. Now 10 years later, very little additional water has been identified. The Columbia River can provide the water to ensure agriculture and fish in the Yakima Basin.

Pump Storage: The Columbia River Pump Storage Project which is listed in the Integrated Plan Storage Components needs to be reviewed and updated. The Pump Storage project (Black Rock) contains the needed water for the Yakima Basin. The in-basin storage has been evaluated for 8 years with no appreciable increase in water storage.


Please contact YBSA with information to support the need for a Pump Storage project to provide water for the Yakima Basin. Write to YBSA at P.O. Box 30, Prosser, WA 99350. Also, you can view information about this issue at


Go to for additional information.


YBSA Monthly Report December, 2017

YBSA Monthly Report
December, 2017

Seasons Greetings! YBSA wishes everyone a successful & healthy 2018

Reservoirs & Water Supply: The stored water in the Yakima Basin Reservoirs is more than half of capacity. The snowpack this year is less than last year at this date. We still have the next three months for the snow to accumulate enough moisture to provide two-thirds of the water needed, along with the reservoirs for instream flow (fish) and out-of-stream use (agriculture) in 2018.

Lower Yakima River Thermal Barrier: A subcommittee of the Integrated Plan Group is reviewing all possible ways to make the lower Yakima River more passable for returning fish. Additional water is needed in the river to solve the problem.

Lake Kachess Drawdown: The Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plan and Keechelus Reservoir to Kachess Reservoir Conveyance Supplemental Draft EIS is to be completed by the end of December 2017. Once the document is available, public hearings will be held along with written comments prior to the Bureau of Reclamation making a decision. According to federal legislation the beneficiary of the added water will be responsible for the costs. The decision cannot be made until the total cost of the project is identified. Also, information of annual water supply that would be available each year based on climate change information should be included in the Environmental Impact Statement.

Lake Cle Elum Fish Project: Work continues to create fish passage. A system is being constructed in the Lake to place a helix and tunnel to allow the fish to return to the Yakima River. A facility to move the returning salmonoids from the river to the lake is being considered. A catch and haul or a new system, Whooshh™, which shoots the fish in an enclosed pipe into the lake is being reviewed.

Construction of the radial gates to raise Lake Cle Elum’s level 3 feet was completed in April. The Bureau of Reclamation is now working with the Forest Service and landowners to install shoreline protection. It is estimated to take approximately the next 5 years to complete. No additional water can be stored until the shoreline protection component is completed, and all additional storage will be dedicated for instream flow for fish. The first shoreline protection contract was awarded for the USFS Cle Elum River Campground to be moved in August 2017 and construction is set to begin fall 2017.

The Lake Cle Elum Project is estimated to be completed in 5 to 7 years if funding becomes available.

Pump Storage: The Columbia River Pump Storage Project which is listed in the Integrated Plan Storage Components needs to be reviewed and updated. The Pump Storage project (Black Rock) contains the needed water for the Yakima Basin. The in-basin storage has been evaluated for 8 years with no appreciable increase in water storage.

Please contact YBSA and comment on the need for a Pump Storage project to provide water for the Yakima Basin. Write to YBSA at P.O. Box 30, Prosser, WA 99350. Also you can view information about this issue at


Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report November, 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

November, 2017

Kachess Final EIS: The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Ecology are still working on a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Lake Kachess pumping project which will drawdown an additional 200,000 acre/feet of water form the Lake. A Senate bill proposed by Senator Cantwell states the beneficiary of the new water will be responsible for the cost. The Senate has not considered the proposed legislation.

U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse submitted legislation in the House of Representatives that supports the Yakima River plan which would:

  • Provide greater water supply reliability for farmers and communities.
  • Secure the water that communities need to meet current and future demand.
  • Protect over 200,000 acres of currently unprotected forest, shrub steppe, and river habitat.
  • Enhanced habitat along the Yakima River and its tributaries.
  • Implement water marketing and banking so that water is more easily delivered when and where needed.
  • Build fish passage to allow salmon, steelhead, and bull trout to travel throughout the basin.

Meeting with Yakima County Commissioners: YBSA met with the Yakima County Commissioners to discuss the thermal barrier that is creating a problem for returning salmonoids in the lower Yakima River. We expressed our concern to the commissioners that the storage project located in the Yakima Basin in the Integrated Plan may not be completed. An additional storage project listed in the original Integrated Plan was a review of using Columbia River water to address the water needs in the Yakima Basin.

Lower Yakima River in Integrated Plan: The information in the Integrated Plan implies that there will be less water provided for instream flow in the lower Yakima River.

Adverse Climate Change Effects: In a review of all water storage projects completed with adverse climate change, 29 out of 90 years (about 1/3 of the time) less than 70% of the water would be available.

Reservoir Water Storage: Water Storage in the Yakima Basin is progressing at a normal rate. When all reservoirs are full they will only provide 1/3 of the annual water needed for instream and out of stream uses.


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YBSA Monthly Report October 2017

YBSA Monthly Report

October, 2017

Lake Kaches Plan: The Environment Impact Statement for the pumping project at Lake Kachess is still being prepared. YBSA received a report on the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Hydrology and Economic Analysis: Supply, costs, and impact insights. The report included a technical review of the Lake Kachess drawdown and the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan that showed that the basis for the conclusions listed in the technical review did not provide a true account of the amount of water that would be available annually and the cost and benefit of the plan.

There needs to be a 3rd party peer review to affirm the assumption and analysis of

  •  Hydrology
  •  Economics
  •  Fish Recovery
  •  Community Impact


Fish: a review of fish population status:

  1. Numbers of fish in the Columbia Snake River Systems. The federal government and others have spent 17.9 Billion Dollars ($17,900,000,000) on fish restoration projects during the las 35 years. In 2015 approximately 85% of the Columbia Basin Sockeye run was lost due to Thermal problems in the Columbia River and its tributaries. The same issue is the problem in the Yakima River
  2. The Yakima River provides the greatest potential for salmon restoration in the entire Columbia Basin. However; there is a major issue or obstacle. It is the “Thermal Barrier” (TB)! The TB is the most critical limitation to the restoration of salmon in the Yakima River system and there are several factors contributing to this limitation. We need to understand the reasons and causes of the thermal barrier.

Also, the thermal barrier in the lower Yakima River causes a problem. Without a means to provide salmonoids an opportunity to move from the Columbia River through the lower reaches of the Yakima, the improvements upstream may not provide the benefits estimated.

Meeting: YBSA met with U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse and expressed our concern with the Integrated Plan to improve fish passage without addressing the thermal barrier that limits the number and time salmonoids can return up the Yakima River

Reservoir Levels: At the end of the irrigation season in the Yakima Basin the water remaining in the 5 reservoirs is at 39% of capacity. This winter and spring the Bureau of Reclamation will manage the water to control instream flow, increase storage, and possible flooding.


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