Summer drought

J & K Dairy employee Tomas Lopez-Cruz works on a pivot system in an alfalfa field on June 27 in Sunnyside.

Irrigation allotments for junior rights holders are going up in the Yakima Basin from 70 to 72 percent, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

A mid-September estimate released Monday said the runoff forecast has improved, giving irrigators with junior water rights a bit more water.

Last month, junior allocations were down to 69 percent, and 67 percent the month before.

Junior rights holders are those who claimed a right to use water after May 10, 1905. Their water allotments can be reduced or withheld completely to ensure that senior rights holders get their full allotment.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency in 27 watersheds statewide, including the Naches, Upper and Lower Yakima basins.

Statewide, June through August was the 22nd warmest period since 1895 and August was the 15th warmest. August was slightly wetter than normal, ranking as the 72nd driest, according to the state Department of Ecology.

Central Washington, including Wenatchee, Yakima and Hanford, was much wetter than normal in August, with totals at least 150 percent of normal, according to the state climatologist.