Newhouse, Reichert introduce Yakima Basin bill

The Yakima River flows past Yakima, Wash., Dec. 30. Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3 to improve its water supply is the culmination of more than 30 years of work.

A bill authorizing the first 10-year phase of a 30-year plan to improve the Yakima Basin water supply has been introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert, Washington state Republicans.

HR 4686, introduced March 3, is a companion bill to S 1694, which passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last November and is awaiting full Senate action.

“Implementing this plan will give agricultural producers the confidence they need to continue operating and expanding in the area while respecting concerns of conservationists and local residents,” Reichert said.

Newhouse said the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan is becoming a national model in collaborative water infrastructure planning.

The bills would begin the first 10 years of development of the basin plan. The plan seeks to better accommodate water needs of farmers, conservationists and residents through water conservation and ecosystem restoration, additional water storage and construction of fish passages at Cle Elum and Rimrock reservoirs.

Lake Kachess water storage would be improved and decisions will be made on expanding the capacity of Bumping Lake and building a new Wymer reservoir between Ellensburg and Selah, said Urban Eberhart, an Ellensburg farmer who is manager of the Kittitas Reclamation District and a member of the plan’s implementation committee.

Construction will start on either Bumping or Wymer in the second 10 years of development and on the other one in the third 10-year period, he said.

The committee is pleased with the legislative progress, Eberhart said.

Recommended for you