Reclamation announces Yakima basin water supply – March forecast

Media Contact: Annette Ross, (208) 378-5322, aross@usbr.gov

For Release: March 05, 2020

YAKIMA, Wash. – The Bureau of Reclamation’s March 2020 Total Water Supply Available forecast for the Yakima basin indicates the water supply will satisfy senior and junior water rights this irrigation season.

“The precipitation this season was very poor in November and early December but has been strong since late December and is currently at 115% of average for the water year,” said Chuck Garner, Yakima Project River Operations supervisor. “The precipitation has helped increase our reservoirs from 53% of average in October to 107% in March. The mountain snowpack that feeds our rivers and reservoirs is currently near 100% of average, with below average amounts in the lower elevations and near or above average amounts up high.”

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 March forecast is based on flows, precipitation, snowpack, and reservoir storage as of March 1, along with estimates of future precipitation and river flows. Other future weather conditions that determine the timing of the runoff and the demand for water also are critical in determining streamflows, prorations and the extent to which the reservoirs fill.

“We still have several key months ahead of us that can have a big influence on the ultimate water supply this summer,” says Garner.

For more information, visit Reclamation’s website at https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/yakima.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/yakima