Expected drought shows need for water projects

The Kittitas Reclamation District can start taking water from Lake Easton on April 20 but it may shut down early depending on the severity of this year’s drought.

Normally it supplies water to 60,000 acres, representing about two-thirds of the Kittitas Valley, until Oct. 15, but it won’t have enough to last that long if supply is restricted to 73 percent, says Urban Eberhart, a district board member and hay and apple grower southeast of Ellensburg.

With summer drought from low winter snowpack expected, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said earlier this month that junior water rights holders in the Yakima Basin may get just 73 percent of normal supply.

This summer work will start, he said, to raise Lake Cle Elum three feet, which will provide an extra 14,600 acre-feet of water. Further out is whether to enlarge the Bumping Lake reservoir on the American River toward Chinook Pass by about 160,000 acre-feet or gain the same amount by building a new Wymer dam and reservoir between Ellensburg and Yakima.

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Image credit Flickr.com

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