Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yakima Draft Water Plan up for Public Comment

The Washington Department of Ecology and The Federal Beurau of Reclamation along with a host of local agencies, the Yakama Tribe and irrigation districts recently released the Draft Water Management Plan for the Yakima River. The 4 billion dollar plan lays out actions to be implemented over the next 15 to 20 years to protect and restore fish and wildlife in the basin and improve the reliability of the water supply for irrigation. Among the measures outlined in the plan are:
  • possible fish passage facilities at several dams which currently block anadromous fish
  • floodplain and tributary restoration
  • structural and operational changes at several facilities in the watershed
  • improved conservation of water
  • the possibility of increased storage in the region
The Yakima valley is among the most important agricultural regions in Washington where irrigation supports a multi-million dollar orchard industry. The Yakima is also among the most important rivers in the Columbia basin for wild salmon recovery. Historically the Yakima is thought to have supported returns of nearly 1 million salmon and steelhead annually, including summer steelhead, fall and spring chinook, coho, sockeye and bulltrout. While irrigation withdrawls, dams, nutrient pollution and other water quality issues continue to plauge the Yakima, recovery efforts in the basin have paid major dividends over the last several years.

The plan is open for public comment through May 19th and can be sent to:

Attention: Candace McKinley, Environmental Program manager,

1917 Marsh Road

Yakima, WA 98901;

or by e-mail to

More information in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

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