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Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project
Columbia-Cascades Area Office

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YRBWEP Phase 2 — Conservation
 
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Background of Section 1203. Yakima River Basin Water Conservation Program

The Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project legislation (Title XII of P.L. 103-434) authorizes Reclamation to evaluate and implement various measures to improve water management in the Yakima River Basin to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife and improve the reliability of the water supply for irrigation. 

Conservation Advisory Group | Basin Conservation Plan, Conservation Irrigation Districts, & Acquisitions
 

Voluntary Water Conservation Program
Although several site-specific measures are included in the Enhancement Project, the centerpiece of the legislation is a voluntary water conservation program. The program offers financial incentives to participants through grants from Reclamation and the State of Washington to conduct various phases of the Basin Conservation Program. The four phases of the program are: 

  1. Preparation of water conservation plans
  2. Investigation of the feasibility of specific potential water conservation measures identified in conservation plans
  3. Implementation of feasible measures, and
  4. Post-implementation monitoring and evaluation.

Irrigation demands, instream flow needs for anadromous fish, and water for future development on Yakama Nation (YN) lands compete for the limited water supplies of the Yakima River basin. 

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), local irrigators, the YN, and other entities agreed to seek Federal authority to implement a project centered on diversion reductions and improved fish habitat and passage, resulting in the passage of the YRBWEP legislation. 

In compliance with the YRBWEP Act, Reclamation and Ecology are cost-sharing partners in the Basin Conservation Program. Reclamation funds 65 percent of the cost, and Ecology and the irrigation district each fund 17.5 percent. Two-thirds of the water savings remains in the river and the irrigation district retains one-third.

Water conservation measures implemented in the Yakima River Basin do not increase the amount of water that flows out the mouth of the Yakima River into the Columbia River. Conservation measures applied in irrigation delivery systems increase system efficiency and can reduce the amount of irrigation water needed to be diverted, thus increasing flow in the river reach between the point of diversion and the delivery system’s downstream spill. At the point of the delivery system’s last return flow point, all of the conserved water would have returned to the river, either from groundwater return flow or operational spill.

This is an ongoing program. As of June 2010, Reclamation, Ecology, and irrigation entities have cost-shared to develop eight Comprehensive Conservation Plans and two Feasibility Investigation Reports. Two more Feasibility Investigation Reports are currently being prepared. Two irrigation districts are in the process of implementing conservation measures identified in their Feasibility Investigation Reports.

 
Contact

Timothy McCoy
(509) 575-5848 x209
(509) 454-5611 FAX
tmccoy@usbr.gov

Bureau of Reclamation
Columbia-Cascades Area Office
1917 Marsh Road
Yakima, WA 98901-2058

 

Last Update: April 15, 2013 8:12 AM