Dry spring leads to water shortage in Yakima Valley

Dry spring leads to water shortage in Yakima Valley

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- The Department of Ecology says one month of dry weather has changed the water supply.

The water supply for irrigators was at 100 percent in April but after the dry month of May, it dropped to 96 percent and is expected to continue to fall.

Department of Ecology Public Information Officer Joye Redfield-Wilder said this can impact the whole Yakima Valley.

"Water is always a big deal in the Yakima Basin," Redfield-Wilder said. "We're agriculturally based and we have all that great fruit and hops and corn and those kinds of things."

Redfield-Wilder said they are already beginning to rely on stored water from reservoirs. She said irrigators in Kittitas County are getting less water and over 300 water right holders along the Yakima River likely won't get any water this year.

In addition to the dry weather and lack of rain, Redfiled-Wilder said the snow pack melted quicker this year, leaving them with nothing to replenish the reservoirs.

If the dry weather continues the shortage could get worse. KIMA's own Storm Tracker Mike McCabe said rainfall is no where in sight as we approach the driest months of the year, July and August.

"We only average about a quarter of an inch of rain for July and August," McCabe said. "So the idea that we will get a lot of rain in the next few months is not likely."

He said the next significant rainfall likely won't be until the fall.

The Department of Ecology said they've noticed weather in the valley becoming drier over the last few years, so they are looking into long-term solutions such as conservation efforts, to handle this problem.

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