SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — The Roza Irrigation District in the Yakima Valley continues to look for water to lease from other districts as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation drops its estimate of the summer water supply in the Yakima Basin to 44 percent of normal.
That’s 3 percent less than the previous forecast. Mid-May rains slowed water consumption from the region’s reservoirs and even added a little water to two of them.
As of May 18, owners of 1,200 acres in the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District are willing to lease their supply to the Roza at $500 per acre, said Jim Trull, SVID manager.
That will provide about 2,400 acre-feet of water of the 5,000 that the Roza District is looking for. The RID is looking for more landowners in the SVID willing to lease out water but there may not be anymore, Trull said.
What will be leased is probably water from pasture and forage crops, he said.
Scott Revell, manager of the RID, said he probably has another 200 acres in other districts including the Naches Selah. The deadline for signups in the SVID was May 18, but Revell said a second round would begin May 19 and go a couple of weeks. All leases are subject to approval by Yakima County Superior Court because of long-standing adjudication of water rights, he said.
The RID board meets May 22 to discuss how long the district’s temporary suspension of water to growers will last. It began May 11 to save reservoir water for later in the season.
The 2,400 acre-feet of leased water will add about three days to the end of the shortened irrigation season, Revell said.
The Yakima Tieton Irrigation District decided not to lease any water to the Roza.
“We’re sympathetic to their concerns but just didn’t feel it was in the best interest of our users, not knowing the final proration level,” said Rick Dieker, Yakima Tieton manager.
Twenty-five percent of the Yakima Tieton’s water is junior rights subject to proration.
“We want to make sure we have enough to get through the season. Right now we anticipate having enough and delivering through September. Normally, we go into the first or second week of October,” he said.
The Wapato Irrigation Project doesn’t have any water for the Roza and began limiting deliveries to 66 percent of normal on May 18, said Edwin Lewis, project manager.
“As summer progresses, we expect the water situation to get tighter and tighter,” Lewis said.
The project, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, has 57,000 acres of junior water rights and 79,000 acres of senior rights but allocates water at the same rate to both since the rights are for a logistical checkerboard of parcels.
Much of the district’s infrastructure is in disrepair. Growers have filed claims and then lawsuits over crop losses due to disrepair in recent years but have been denied, Lewis said.
“We try to do the best we can to deliver in a fair and equitable manner,” Lewis said. “We have some challenging pockets toward the end of our canals in the Granger and Mabton areas.”