Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project

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2009 Workgroup

In 1979, Congress directed the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct a feasibility study of the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (YRBWEP). The Congressional objectives of the YRBWEP study were to develop a plan that would provide supplemental water for presently irrigated lands, water for new lands within the Yakama Indian Reservation, water for increased instream flows for aquatic life, and a comprehensive plan for efficient management of basin water supplies.

Early in the YRBWEP study process, fish passage problems were identified as needing immediate early attention and congressional legislation in 1984 authorized “YRBWEP Phase 1,” which primarily involved rebuilding fish ladders and constructing fish screens on river diversions.

The YRBWEP study proceeded through the 1980s but was not fully completed primarily due to issues and uncertainties associated with the adjudication of the basin surface waters that began in 1978. Consequently, Congress passed legislation in 1994 for what is generally referred to as “YRBWEP Phase 2.” This legislation provided for significant water conservation and acquisition activities, studies to define the long-term water needs of fish and current irrigators, improvements to the Wapato Irrigation Project, and development of an interim plan for management of basin water supplies.

Then, in 2003, Reclamation and the Washington Department of Ecology initiated the Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study (Storage Study) to examine the feasibility and acceptability of storage augmentation in the Yakima River basin. Evaluation of the Black Rock Dam Alternative, along with other storage alternatives, was presented in Reclamation’s Final Planning Report/Environmental Impact Statement in December 2008.

Ecology began a separate evaluation in mid-2008 of solutions to the Yakima basin's water supply problems including consideration of habitat and fish passage needs. This study was completed and a Final Environmental Impact Statement issued in June 2009.

With the reports and activities underway and produced under YRBWEP Phase 2, and completion of the Storage Study and Ecology's SEPA study, there has now been three decades of work and information produced by basin stakeholders, the Department of Ecology, and Reclamation toward identifying and resolving the water resources and related habitat needs of the Yakima basin. Therefore, in April 2009, Reclamation and Ecology initiated the YRBWEP 2009 Workgroup.

The Workgroup is composed of representatives of the Yakama Nation; Federal, State, county, and city governments; environmental organizations; and irrigation districts. Representatives from congressional delegations have also been invited. The first meeting of the Workgroup was held in Yakima on June 30, 2009, and meetings continued every 2 weeks through 2009. The Workgroup used these 30+ years of studies and information to develop a Preliminary Integrated Water Resource Management Plan (IWRMP) for the Yakima River basin. The Workgroup reached a consensus in December 2009 to move forward with finalizing the Preliminary IWRMP under the Yakima River Basin Study.

YRBWEP Reports
01/2010 Preliminary Integrated Water Resource Management Plan for the Yakima River Basin (including comments) HTML
07/2009 YRBWEP Fact Sheet PDF 57 kb
01/2008 Yakima River Basin Fish Passage, Phase I and II Fish Screen Construction Project Completion Report PDF 745 kb
11/2002 Yakima River Basin Interim Operation Plan PDF 6.0 mb
04/1985 Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project, Phase 2, Status Report PDF 3.1 mb
02/1984 Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project, Phase 2, Draft Plan of Study PDF 5.5 mb
01/1984 Damsite and Structure Review Team Report PDF 1.8 mb
08/1982 Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project, Phase 1 Study Team Report PDF 6.0 mb
Reference Documents
07/2009 Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project Timeline PDF 183 kb
06/2009 Washington State Dept. of Ecology Final EIS HTML
03/2009 Climate Impact Group - Climate change impact on water management and irrigate agriculture in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA PDF 409 kb
12/2008 Yakima River Basin Water Storage Feasibility Study Planning Report/EIS HTML
09/2008 Cle Elum and Bumping Lake Dams Fish Passage Facilities Planning Report – Draft PDF 6.0 mb
08/2008 Yakima Steelhead Recovery Plan HTML
2006-08 United States Geological Survey - Yakima Basin Studies HTML
09/2007 Detailed Implementation Plan PDF 3.71 mb
01/2003 Watershed Management Plan PDF 18.36 mb
05/1999 System Operation Advisory Committee (SOAC) Report on Biologically Based Flows for the Yakima River Basin PDF 2.3 mb
1979-94 YRBWEP Authorization HTML
06/1989 Appraisal Assessment of Tributary Storage Potentials - Kittitas Valley, Washington PDF 8.3 mb
03/1984 Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Study - Preliminary Report for Swauk Creek Dam, Lake Cle Elum Tunnel & Lake Cle Elum Pumping Plant PDF 2.8 mb
05/1978 Yakima River Reregulating Storage - Feasibility Study PDF 10.8 mb
05/1978 Yakima River Reregulating Storage - Appendix A-E PDF 4.3mb
2009 Workgroup Meeting Notes and Handouts
News Releases
06/23/09 Reclamation, Ecology Convenes Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project Work Group HTML

Washington State Department of Ecology


Wendy Christensen
(509) 573-8050

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

Thomas Tebb
(509) 574-3989

Director, Office of Columbia River
State of Washington
Department of Ecology
1250 West Alder Street
Union Gap, WA 98903-0009

Last Updated: 6/30/20