Monthly Report Archive

Monthly Report

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.

YBSA Monthly Report August 2019

August 2019

Storage Capacity: In the Yakima Basin reservoirs storage is at 30% with inflow at 604 cubic feet per second (cfs) and released at 4191 cfs. Junior water right holders are currently receiving 69% supply. Currently the reservoir capacity is 180,000 acre/feet less than average.

Annual Flip Flop: Every year to protect spawning grounds in the upper Yakima River flow of water is reduced. The reduced flow is put in place to force the fish to spawn near the center of the river. Then the water stored in the reservoirs in the Naches River Basin is released to nearly flood stage to counteract the reduced flow from the upper Yakima River. See this article from the Yakima Herald Republic September 1st, 2019.

Carryover: Annual carryover of stored water may be at a minimum at the end of the irrigation season. Snowpack this winter will determine the water available for instream flow and out of stream use (fish & agriculture). The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting snow events this winter.

Climate Change: With conservation measurers in place the out of stream water for agriculture has been enough for a good year for agriculture. In stream flow is dangerously low especially in the lower Yakima River. Currently the warm water, covered in many places with green algae, is
hazardous to fish. The Lake Cle Elum fish passage project continues. Completion is about 2 to 3 years away. More water in the Yakima River will be needed to make the project successful. The mighty Columbia River continues to flow above average and fishing has been opened.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report July 2019

YBSA Monthly Report

July 2019

Water Available: At the end of July, the five Yakima Basin reservoirs register at 53% which is 200,000 acre/feet less than average. There is 988 cfs entering the 5 reservoirs at this time with 5277 cfs released. With a decline of total water supply junior users are currently receiving a 67% supply

Lake Cle Elum Fish Project: Construction of the fish passage project is estimated to be in future years when funding becomes available. When the lake reaches the level sufficient for fish passage out of the reservoir. If the Lake level does not exceed 2019 the fish will not be able to move from the lake to the river.

Article from Northern Kittitas County Tribune Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Three Rivers Pump Hydro Storage Workshop: A long term need for base loaded power is larger than widely known. 8.000 MW may be short by 2030. Batteries can provide the same storage for a short duration at 6 times more carbon footprint than Pump Hydro Storage.

Closed circuit pump hydro storage systems are not a good type project for long term success. Remitting has become easier to Pump Hydro Storage project since two new federal laws become effect in the drought of 2014.

Full Meeting Notes Follow:

Three Rivers Pump Hydro Storage Workshop

Meeting Notes – June 24, 2019

Wrap-Up Summary of Take Away Key points:

Economics & Finance

Long term need for base load power is larger than widely known, from 3 sources:

2,250 MW shor by 2022

5,000 MW short by 2025 by 2030

8,000 MW short by 2030 (Source: E3 Consulting report)

Funding is available for PHS projects right now. $100M to $300M is typical.

Organization structure does matter. The limitation for irrigation districts to enter PPP arrangements has been removed.

Limiting factors ahead include pricing trends. For example, 6 weeks ago $1,200 per MWh compared to natural gas pricing $12 to $80 range.

Capacity issue caused a rate spike within Grant PUD to $5,000 per MWh.

City of Quincy will be out of power in 2022 due to new data centers to date.

California load ramps will be in the range of 15,000 MWh ahead (15 times City of Seattle needs).

Batteries can provide the same storage for short durations at six times the carbon footprint compared to PHS, although none are proven yet for 5 days of storage needed at grid scale when extended periods of low pressure eliminate solar and wind.

Environmental Permitting

Requires time, money and land.

2 of 3 FERC Permitting paths are best aligned with PHS proposals.

Now 7 PHS proposals activate is a 50% increased compared to 2014 so interest in PHS is trending upward.

Closed loop systems are low hanging fruit as a project type for permitting success.

Success in permitting starts with communication and permitting is becoming easier (2 new federal laws in August 2014 streamlining less than 10 MW hydro, FERC rule changes, BPA reg practice changes).


100% clean energy in WA state is a major challenge ahead. The cost to go from 98% to 100% clean will increase 10 times current rates.

PHS could be load or generator or interconnect or live load, depending on the business model as presented to BPA Transmission at the time of approval.

Defined terms for BPA for PHS create 3 categories of PHS proposals:

  1. Large
  2. Small
  3. Line & load interconnections

BPA Transmission policy and procedure operated on a philosophy of “show me the money” requiring applicant funded deposits upfront ranging from $120,000 for less than 20 MW proposals and approximately $200,000 for other projects for required BPA reviews and studies.

YBSA Monthly Report June 2019

Water Availability: Ecology forecasts the total natural water supply available to the Yakima’s three watershed comprising 6,150 square miles will be 75 percent of normal, May to September. Hence drought was declared in the Upper Yakima, Lower Yakima and Naches watersheds this spring.

This also means some irrigators will receive a smaller ration of water, and others will be shut off. Irrigation supports a $4.5 billion agricultural economy in the Yakima Basin, where the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation manages five reservoirs to deliver water to irrigate 464,000 acres of farmland and to release water in pulses to support salmon. For additional information on how the drought affects the Yakima Basin Click Here from the Yakima Herald Republic.

Cle Elum Dam Fish Project: An innovative first of its kind multimillion-dollar project to move salmonoids from Lake Cle Elum back to the Yakima River is progressing toward completion. The increase in the capacity of the lake will provide additional water for the fish to navigate the Helix and provide more water in the river for fish to return. For more information Click Here from the Yakima Herald Republic.

Pump Storage Workshop: On June 24th TRIDEC (Tri-Cities Economic Development Association), YCDA (Yakima County Economic Association), and YBSA (Yakima Basin Storage Alliance) hosted a workshop in the Walter Clone Center in Prosser. The value of pump storage project: the benefits of power generation, fish and agriculture were covered.
Yakima Basin Funding Update: $40 million for Yakima Basin Integrated Plan mostly for fish enhancement and $4.2 million for Yakima River improvements have been appropriated.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report May 2019

Water Available: The water in the 5 reservoirs in the Yakima Basin is at 80% of capacity. The smaller snowpack is being reduced by the very hot temperatures creating another water short year.

Final Water Report: The Bureau of Reclamation will publish their final water report soon. It will include an estimate on the amount of water for the irrigation districts in the Yakima Basin.

Letter to the Editor by Charles Klarich, 80-year resident of the Yakima Basin: Water for the Yakima Basin

With the adjudication of water rights in the Yakima Basin completed, it’s time to locate the water needed to fulfill those rights.

The current snowpack in the Basin is at 50% of normal. The 5 reservoirs are 75% full, so proratable water users could get 75% or less water than needed. Instream flow in the lower river continues to create a thermal barrier for fish passage and survival. Is there a solution?

The only plan being considered is the floating pump project on Lake Kachess. These 200,000 acre/feet of water would come from 80 feet below the normal water surface and would only be used during drought years. With climate change it is possible Lake Kachess would not refill every year after drought pumping. The cost of the floating pumping plant, which will remain on the lake, is estimated to be more than $252 million. Annual costs for maintenance and mitigation will be added. It is anticipated the Roza Irrigation District would pay for the project.

The Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan does not provide the water needed. Roll on Mighty Columbia Roll on . . . send some water to the Yakima Basin!
Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan: May 2019
• Lake Cle Elum fish passage over the dam to provide for the downstream passage for fish returning to the Cle Elum River is progressing.
• Box Canyon Creek and Clear Creek Dam are being evaluated for fish passage.
• Lower Yakima River Study – Study to identify salmon and steelhead behavior in the lower river during spring and summer months based on instream flow.
• Lake Kachess Pumping Project Environmental Impact Statement has been issued and is being reviewed.
• Wymer and Bumping Lake Reservoirs are ongoing.

Go to for additional information.

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.