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Monthly Report Archive

Monthly Report

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 www.ybsa.org 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 www.ybsa.org 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 www.ybsa.org 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.

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 https://www.nwpb.org/2018/06/18/record-lamprey-return-a-cultural-win-for-native-tribes/ 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 http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/kdrpp/index.html and http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/kkc/index.html

 

Go to www.ybsa.org for additional information.

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 http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/kdrpp/index.html and http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/kkc/index.html

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.

 

Go to www.ybsa.org for additional information.

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 http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/kdrpp/index.html and http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/kkc/index.html.

 

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.

 

Go to www.ybsa.org for additional information.

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

 

Go to www.ybsa.org for additional information.

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.

 

Go to www.ybsa.org for additional information.