YAKIMA, Wash. — Federal officials anticipate a full supply of water to meet all Yakima Valley irrigation needs this summer.
Thursday’s optimistic forecast, the first of the 2013 season, comes despite below-normal precipitation for much of the winter.
But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said a near-normal snowpack and reservoir storage that is above average suggests all needs can be met.
Even if spring weather turns drier — a trend long-range weather forecasts suggest is not likely — farmers should have enough water.
“The Yakima Basin weather outlook is favorable and the reservoir system storage on March 1 was a healthy 122 percent of average,” said Chuck Garner, the bureau’s river operations supervisor in Yakima.
The bureau operates the storage and delivery system that provides water to 460,000 acres in the three-county basin.
Tom Monroe, manager of the 72,000-acre Roza Irrigation District, echoed the optimistic outlook.
“I think we will be OK,” he said following the announcement at the bureau’s Terrace Heights office. The Roza, which serves land from Terrace Heights to near Benton City, is a junior water district, which means its rights are reduced when overall supplies aren’t sufficient for all users.
The snowpack in the Cascade Mountains, an important source of water for the early months of the irrigation season, also is near normal, the bureau said.