Monthly Report Archive

Monthly Report

YBSA Monthly Report November 2021

Storage: The Yakima Basin Reservoirs are at 52% capacity which is 145% of average. Theweather pattern has moved the anticipated rainfall from the Yakima Basin to northwestern Washington and into British Columbia. Snow accumulation in the Cascade Mountains has decreased.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Work Group: Planning for the next 10 years:
• Number of projects were discussed.
• No definite plan for additional water to provide more water during drought years.
• Projects to improve passage and survival for fish in the Yakima River, but no additional water.
• Continuing to look at projects for conservation and delivery systems both of which need additional water.
• Lack of planning to attempt to secure water for the Columbia River to insure flow in the Yakima Basin.

Update on Integrated Plan Activities: Fish passage activities continue with installation of the Helix to move smolt from Lake Cle Elum over Lake Cle Elum Dam into the Cle Elum River and a catch and haul of fish from the Cle Elum River over the dam into the lake.

Continuing to track fish passage in the lower Yakima River shows less migration. Migration only improves when more instream flow is available.

Fish passage continues to be improved in the upper Yakima River which will only be increased when more fish and water are available in the Yakima Basin.

Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plan: The Bureaus of Reclamation and Ecology are still reviewing plans on how to make the project viable. The Roza Irrigation District, who would be the biggest benefactor of additional water, has yet to indicate they want to proceed with the project.

Wymer and Bumping Lake projects are still being reviewed.

Acquavella: 42 years ago, the State Department of Ecology began an adjudication of water called “Acquavella” to determine who and how much water would be available to each user. In 2019 the case was closed. Since then, water users who wanted some changes in the adjudication filed a lawsuit. The Yakama Nation and other water users filed an appeal charging insufficient water was available to irrigate their land. The final decision by the State Supreme Court ruled the State of Washington could not limit the amount of water on the Yakama Reservation. The Integrated Plan Work Group will have to develop a plan for an increase in the water supply on the Reservation.

YBSA Monthly Report October 2021

YBSA Monthly Report
October 2021

Storage: After the curtailment of irrigation water the current carryover through October 2021 is more than the average but less than last year. The capacity of storage at this time is 30% with Lake Cle Elum, our largest reservoir, at 23%.

Available Water: The Yakima Basin water supply has decreased over the years and additional water is necessary to maintain our agriculture use and instream flow for fish. A report on 60 Minutes discusses the potential for droughts. See video segment here. Drought effects all the Western States except Idaho, Montana and Washington. California has been losing 100,000 to 150,000 acres per year of irrigated land. That is like losing the equivalency of the entire Yakima River Basin Agriculture every 3 to 5 years!!!

YBSA Monthly Report September 2021

YBSA Monthly Report
September 2021

Storage: Capacity in all 5 reservoirs is at 32% which is a little better than average. The amount of water stored in Lake Cle Elum is low to complete the fish passage project.

Irrigation: Water stored water in the 5 reservoirs will end near the middle of October. The Bureau of Reclamation will determine the water released for instream flow and the water to be retained in the reservoirs for next year’s needs.

Planning for 2022 Water Year: Climate changes and the fires have changed the normal procedure for providing the water needed for instream and out of stream flow in the Yakima River. Millions have been spent, but very little increase in the water needed has been achieved. The headwaters of the Columbia River in Canada have been receiving the snowpack and rains. Columbia River water needs to be an option to provide the water for the Yakima Basin. Continued planning to increase the water in the 5 reservoirs may not provide adequate water for the future.

Project Update: Lake Cle Elum fish passage continues which will allow fish to move from the lake to the Cle Elum River. There is still no natural way for the salmonoids to return up the river and reach the lake.

Lake Kachess project is still on hold without any decision made.

There has been continued funding of habitat and watershed improvements with little water for fish to return and survive in the Yakima Basin.

Pinpointing the costs of projects that have been proposed and completed to increase the water supply in the Yakima Basin need to identify with a description of the benefits and amount of water supply.

Lower Yakima River: Low flows and warm water continues to damage fish survival and passage in the Yakima River. A report shows that after more than 10 years lower numbers of salmon and sockeye are returning.

YBSA Monthly Report August 2021

Storage: Storage in the 5 reservoirs is at 50% which is a little more than average for this time of year. Lake Keechelus and Cle Elum are at 30% capacity.

River Flow: The term flip-flop is used to describe the changes in the flows in the Cle Elum and Naches Rivers. The Cle Elum River’s flow is reduced to a minimum so salmonoids will stay in the main part of the river. The Naches River flow is increased to meet the flow in the Yakima River to accommodate out of stream (agriculture) and in stream (fish) needs. The increased flow in the Naches disturbs the gravel beds which make it difficult for fish to spawn.

Project Update: Now no word on the completion of the fish passage (the Helix concept) at Lake Cle Elum. The decision on the use of Lake Kachess is still pending.

Climate Change: Temperatures are increasing, and river flow is warmer which makes it more difficult for fish to survive and move up stream. Fires are burning thousands of acres of timber which provide a canopy to prolong the snowpack melt. An increase of river flow in the early months of the year will occur.

It Is Time: It is time to prepare a plan to address these problems. The Integrated Plan Work Group should check the use of Columbia River water to irrigate the lower Yakima Valley leaving Yakima Basin water for instream flow.

Click Here for information on California drought issues.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report July 2021

Storage: The 5 reservoirs are at 77% of average, which is average for this time of year. Water released from the reservoirs is 5 times greater than the intake flow. 6136 acre-feet of water is being released from the 5 reservoirs but only 663 acre-feet of water in the lower Yakima River near Prosser.

Lake Cle Elum Fish Passage Project: The project to retain juvenile salmon from the Lake to the Cle Elum River is progressing. Additional shoreline protection and contracts with lake shore ones continues.

Integrated Plan: The next faze of the Integrated Plan for the Yakima Basin Plan is to provide a reliable water supply that meets the needs of people and the environment for the Yakima Valley.

Sunnyside Sun Article: Click Here for a guest column in the Sunnyside Sun, “Ensuring Water Supply for Generations to Come” by Representative Dan Newhouse. He supports the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. It includes additional water in the Yakima Basin for out of stream flow and instream flow for fish. A reliable water supply that meets the needs of both people and the environment in the Yakima Valley is crucial.

Yakima River Flow: The flow in the lower Yakima River is low. There are areas of green algae in numerous spots created by the heat causing very warm river water.

Snow Melt: The runoff from snow melt is almost all gone, and the reservoirs only have sufficient water for irrigation purposes.

Go to for additional information.

YBSA Monthly Report June 2021

YBSA Monthly Report

June 2021

Storage: As of the end of June all reservoirs are full. Irrigation supply could continue to be available at 100% depending on the temperature.

Yakima River: Flow in the Yakima River is low and the high water temperature is hazardous to fish survival. With the air temperature to remain above 90° for the next two weeks, water flow in the river may need to be increased to reduce the temperature of the water. Yakima Basin Spring runoff was insufficient to recharge the shallow aquifers so any return flow to the river comes from hot surface runoff with very little from groundwater.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan: The goal for the Yakima Basin included additional water storage for agriculture and fish. Saving sockeye and bull trout in the basin had not been improved due to insufficient water supply.

YBSA Monthly Report May 2021

May 2021

Storage: The five reservoirs are 90% full. Water from storage has been adjusted to address the flip-flop of water in the river and to address the needs of out-migrating fish.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Progress Report: Lake Cle Elum fish passage is still being built. Construction continues on passage gates and the Helix for installation this summer.

Sockeye returning up the Yakima River continues to be minimal due to high water temperature and low flows in the river. To enable the fish to return the water flows need increasing and, with more water, the necessary lower temperatures will be met.

Yakima Basin May 2021 Water Report: The Bureau of Reclamation forecasts the water supply will provide all senior and junior water supply this season.

The snowpack is holding up well. Despite the warm weather and low precipitation, the reservoirs have been at normal storage. Stream flows are determined by runoff and storage operations.

Department of Ecology: The DOE issued a drought warning for all of Eastern Washington. March and April were the fourth driest period in Eastern Washington since 1895. Reduced crop yields are expected because of the dry weather. The next Yakima Basin Water estimate will be on June 3.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Work Group: They will meet virtually again this week.

YBSA Monthly Report April 2021

YBSA Monthly Report

April 2021

Storage: The Yakima Basin storage system contains 70% of storage capacity which is average for April 30th. Snowpack is still holding but is decreasing fast with very little precipitation and warm weather in the mountains. A short water year is possible.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan: Yakima Basin Storage Alliance is pleased to see progress on various items. Additional storage must be a vital part of the solution and the total cost and who pays for the more storage needs to be decided.

Salmon Recovery: Idaho is considering billons of dollars for salmon recovery. The Yakima Basin needs to be aggressive in implementing its salmon recovery.

Water: Every year the Yakima Basin is concerned about having enough water for fish and agriculture. The Basin’s economy and livelihood depends on water. A review of the Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study that was completed in 2008 which provided the solution for the needed water in the Yakima Basin needs to be addressed by the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Work Group.

Water Report: The Bureau of Reclamation water report will be issued in early May. The report could identify how much water will be available this summer and fall for out of stream use (agriculture) and instream flow (fish). Click Here for Yakima Herald Republic Story, “Despite snow, rain, Pacific Northwest faces drought”

Project Updates: No update is available on the Lake Cle Elum fish passage or the Lake Kachess project.

YBSA Monthly Report March 2021

YBSA Monthly Report

March 2021

Storage: The Yakima River System Storage (Keechelus, Kachees, Cle Elum, Bumping & Rimrock) is at 63% capacity which is average for this time of year. Cle Elum and Bumping Reservoirs are just over 50% of capacity.

Snowwater content in the upper Yakima Basin and Naches Basin are above 125%. Snowwater content after spring runoff will determine if enough water will be available for agriculture and instream flow. If not storage controlled water will be released to provide the needed water. During the first week in June, water will be released from the reservoirs.

Yakima Integrated Plan: The March Workgroup meeting discussed environmental, conservation and fish enhancement projects. The group continues to endorse improvements in the Yakima Basin but has not addressed the need for additional water. Additional water is needed to guarantee water for irrigation and instream flow for salmonoids. The salmonoids have a difficult time returning up the river to the improvements because insufficient water flowing in the Yakima River has created a temperature barrier in the lower Yakima River. The low river levels have almost eliminated the resident fish and curtailed the returning salmonoids. Only new water like the water from the Columbia River will provide what is needed to solve the Yakima Basin problem.

Irrigation: Water began to be diverted from the Yakima River into the irrigation canals to prime the canals prior to the start distributing water to farms. The water will be available from spring runoff.

YBSA Monthly Report February 2021

Storage: Reservoirs are at 59% of capacity. Storage capacity is at the same amount at this time last year. Snow water equivalent has increased to 120% of average. Future forecast is for warming temperatures and the first taste of Spring.

Cle Elum Dam Fish Passage Project: The juvenile fish passage, using the helix, to transport the fish from the lake through the dam to the Cle Elum River. The upstream passage will be to catch the fish at the base of the dam, load them in trucks, and haul them to the Cle Elum River above the dam. Work continues on the project to secure the Helix and complete the passage tunnels during 2021.

Increasing the elevation of Lake Cle Elum to improve the fish passage for better use of the Helix is continuing. Campgrounds must be moved or removed and shoreline protection has to be increased.

Sockeye Study: The rate of migration up the Yakima River in 2019 was low due to high water temperature in the lower river. The 2020 study has been completed and will be published in March 2021.

Surface Water Storage: Lake Kachess Drought Pumping Plan continues to be evaluated. Total cost for the project has not been estimated. The Roza Irrigation District will be responsible for most of the costs.

Other storage projects in the basin are still being studied with no end in sight.

A project that can solve the water needs in the Yakima River for instream flow and out of stream use is the mighty Columbia River.

Coho: 82,000 Coho are trucked from the Marian Drain Hatchery southwest of Wapato. The Marian Drain Hatchery raises Trout and two types of Salmon: Summer Chinook and Coho.

In the middle of March, when the fish reach 4.5 inches in length, they are trucked to the Holmes Acclimation site and released in a bypass channel which flows into the Yakima River.

Trout Unlimited: Instream flow in the Yakima River is crucial for continuing salmon recovery. The organization is seeking the opportunity to lease water rights to increase flow in the Yakima River to protect and increase the salmonoid population.

Saving Salmon: A conceptual plan to increase salmon recovery in the Snake and Columbia Rivers was introduced in Congress. The cost could be $34 billion to provide passage around the dams on the Snake River. Millions of salmonoids would have the opportunity to increase their number supplementing the fish number in the Columbia River.

Pump Storage: The pump storage project for the Yakima Basin would provide an opportunity to increase instream flow and out of stream use. Benefits include millions of salmonoids, additional surface water for agriculture, increase in ground water storage and less pumping, electrical generation, and recreation. The estimated cost of the project is $5.5 billion.

Yakima Basin Integrated Plan: YBIP is March 10th at 9:30 am.