2015 Drought Could Be Felt Again in 2016
With some irrigation districts only able to supply as little as 40, 45 or 47% of water normally allocated to farmers in Southeastern Washington, farmers and water suppliers are already preparing for what is expected to be a repeat of this year, in 2016.
The Roza Irrigation District, which supplies the upper Yakima Valley and Sunnyside area, was only able to deliver about 47% of normal water supplies in 2015. They are already seeking emergency relief measures for next year by asking for permission to put a floating pump in the Kachess Reservoir.
It would allow them to access part of the 586,000 acre-feet of water storage. If emergency drought conditions exist in 2016, this would allow them to access at least 50,000 acre-feet of water for growers, and it would be used to help maintain fish habitats and runs.
Officials are already working with the Department of Natural Resources and other federal agencies in Washington D.C. to have plans in place, in case predictions for a dry 2016 are true. While there will be additional costs incurred by such plans, Irrigation officials across the region say many growers won't survive in 2016 with another year like this one.