May. 27, 2015 Learn about emergency water permits at Thursday workshop

Yakima junior water users may qualify for emergency drought relief

YAKIMA – Yakima Basin farmers who hold junior water rights and are seeking to tap into groundwater this irrigation season are invited to attend a workshop at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at the Washington Department of Ecology’s Central Regional Office, 15 W. Yakima Ave., in Yakima.

At the workshop, farmers can learn whether they qualify for a temporary emergency groundwater permit allowing well water to supplement their irrigation supply under a cost-share drought response program. Most affected junior water users are within the Kittitas Reclamation District, and the Roza and Kennewick irrigation districts.

As of May 20, junior water users were projected to receive only 44 percent of their normal allocation this irrigation season. Drought was declared in the Yakima Basin by Gov. Jay Inslee on March 13 when supplies in the basin were projected to be less than 75 percent of normal. On May 15, the governor expanded the drought declaration to cover the entire state.

Irrigators participated in similar drought emergency programs in 2001 and 2005 that required water use to be offset by the leasing of existing senior water rights. Those participating in the state program this year will be asked to pay 50 percent of Ecology’s costs to mitigate their 2015 emergency drought use.
On Thursday, irrigators may either bring their own water transfer proposals or participate in the state’s drought mitigation program. Those qualifying would be allowed to pump water sufficient to bring them up to 70 percent of their district’s normal water supply.

More information is available by calling Ecology’s Water Resources customer service desk at 509-575-2597 or visit Ecology’s website.