Junior water rights holders will get about a 1 percentage-point boost in water allocation to help carry them into the fall.
On Wednesday, an updated water forecast by the Bureau of Reclamation announced junior water rights holders in the Yakima River basin would receive 70 percent of a full allocation through mid-October, when the irrigation season ends.
“It’s giving them just a little bit more water through September and hopefully this fall,” said River Operations Manager Chris Lynch.
The improvement comes from expected increases in precipitation over the next few months.
Last month junior allocations were down to 69 percent, and 67 percent the month before.
This year’s drought will force the Kittitas Reclamation District to shut down early, but the Roza Irrigation District has incrementally scaled back water delivery enough to make it through mid-October, Lynch said.
Both irrigation districts are largely composed of junior water rights, which are prorated in drought years and inferior to senior water rights holders.
Gov. Jay Inslee declared drought emergencies in 27 watersheds, including the Upper and Lower Yakima and the Naches. The Yakima basin experienced below-normal reservoir levels last fall and below-average snowfall in the mountains over the winter, contributing to the drought.
The average temperature was 72.7 degrees in August in Yakima, which was 3.4 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures averaged 89.1 degrees, 2.3 degrees above normal.