Yakima River Basin Study, First One Completed Under Reclamation’s WaterSMART Program

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212
Candace McKinley, (509) 575-5848 ext. 232

For Release: February 02, 2012

The Bureau of Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Region and Washington State Department of Ecology reached a significant year-end milestone with the completion of the Yakima River Basin Study in 2011. It was one of three such studies initiated in 2009, and subsequently carried out under Reclamation's WaterSMART Basin Study Program.

Total cost of the study was $2.64 million with a 50-percent federal cost share. The purpose of the study was to characterize and address the water resource imbalances in the Yakima River Basin. Information from the Basin Study proved vital to the development of the proposed Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan.

Built on previous efforts carried out under the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (YRBWEP), the basin study provides for more refined analyses of water needs, as well as a robust investigation of climate change impacts. In collaboration with the basinwide YRBWEP Workgroup, the study team used the results of the additional analyses to develop a well-defined set of strategies for resolving water supply and streamflow imbalances, and ecosystem restoration enhancement projects.

"The WaterSMART Basin Study Program is intended to provide tools to governmental entities and water managers to secure and stretch water supplies and make them sustainable over the long term," said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. "The Yakima River Basin Study has done that by providing more in-depth information on water demand and supply and acting as a catalyst for discussions and implementation of a long-term strategy."

The YRBWEP Workgroup, comprised of representatives of the Yakama Nation; federal, state, county and city governments; environmental organizations; and irrigation districts, was convened in 2009 and reached consensus to move forward with the Integrated Plan in December 2010.

The study is documented in the following reports: Yakima River Basin Study:: Volume 1, Proposed Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, published in April 2011 and 27 associated technical memoranda on plan elements and analyses (Volume 2), which are located at: http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/yrbwep/2011integratedplan/index.html .

The other two basin studies announced in 2009 included:

- The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, covering portions of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming; and

- The Milk and St. Mary River Systems in north central and southern Montana.

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