The Bureau of Reclamation released its latest Water Supply Forecast last week, which once again called for a reduction for junior water rights holders. The June forecast for the Yakima basin indicates Junior water rights holders will receive an estimated 74% of their entitlements this irrigation season; the water supply will fully satisfy senior water rights.
“The snow in the mountains melted close to 3½ weeks earlier than normal. The reservoirs are only about 83% full and filling slowly,” said Chuck Garner, Yakima Project River Operations supervisor. “We expect the reservoirs to stop filling 2–3 weeks earlier than usual and will experience a shortfall.” Garner recommends water conservation always be a part of water usage in the Yakima basin, especially this season with the low water supply.
Reclamation manages the water in the five Yakima Project storage reservoirs, along with the basin’s unregulated inflows to fulfill water rights, water contracts, and instream flow obligations. Water shortages in the basin are shared equally by the junior water rights which represent over half of the water rights in the basin.
Reclamation will provide an updated water supply forecast monthly, at least through July, using the latest data each month to reflect any changing conditions as they develop.
The June forecast is based on flows, precipitation, snowpack and reservoir storage as of June 1, along with estimates of future precipitation and river flows. Other future weather conditions that determine the timing of the snowmelt and the demand for water also are critical in determining stream flows, prorations and the extent to which the reservoirs fill.
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