Junior water rights holders in the Yakima River basin will receive an estimated 67 percent supply for irrigation, according to Wednesday morning’s forecast from the Bureau of Reclamation.
Senior water rights holders will receive a full allotment, according to a news release.
“The basin’s seasonal decline in flows and reservoir storage began about 2 to 3 weeks earlier than normal this year,” said Chuck Garner, Yakima Project River Operations supervisor. “The reservoirs topped out at 81.5 percent full on June 7.”
Garner put out a reminder for water conservation, especially this season with the low water supply.
The forecast is based on flows, precipitation, snowpack and reservoir storage through July 1, along with estimates of future precipitation and river flows. The forecast as of late June called for a 72 percent supply for junior rights holders.
Reclamation officials say a combination of low reservoir levels at the end of last year’s irrigation season, lower-than-normal snowfall and rain in the Cascades, and a warmer-than-usual spring resulted in lower water levels in reservoirs and rivers.
Gov. Jay Inslee has declared drought emergencies in 27 watersheds, including the Upper and Lower Yakima and the Naches. Drought emergencies are called when water supply conditions are below 75 percent of normal and there is potential for economic impact.
Junior rights holders are those who claimed a right to use water after May 10, 1905. Their water allotments can be reduced or even withheld completely to ensure that senior rights holders get their full allotment.