Water supplies in the Yakima River Basin are looking good so far this year, despite below-average rainfall in March.
Currently, snowpack in the mountains is above average for this time of year, which suggests water users can anticipate receiving almost a full allotment this year.
“There’s a really good indication that we will have adequate water supply through the season for all water users, said Chris Lynch, a water manager and engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Terrace Heights. The BOR, which manages the water in the Yakima Project’s five reservoirs, issued its monthly water forecast Wednesday.
Precipitation was 43% of average in March, Lynch said, but the snowpack was about 121% of average.
“We didn’t lose any snow,” Lynch said. “It was a fairly cool month.”
While the cooler weather has preserved the snowpack, it also meant that water flows in the basin have been running about 60-80% of normal, Lynch said. He said the reservoirs are filling, but just not as fast as they usually do, which he said was not a cause for concern at this time.
Storage in the reservoirs is currently averaging 99% of normal, according to the BOR’s reports.
Flows are expected to pick up going from April to June, according to the BOR.
For junior water rights holders, the forecast calls for at least 96% of their water allotment, Lynch said. Junior rights holders, whose claim to use water was made after May 10, 1905, can have their allotments reduced to ensure that senior water users receive their full share.
The BOR will be issuing water forecasts monthly through June.