Monday afternoon the United States Bureau of Reclamation released the final forecast for total water supply available to irrigation districts in the Yakima Basin. As a water right holder, with pro-ratable right, K.I.D. will receive an estimated 73%of its total allotted amount of water for the 2015 irrigation season.

During drought years, K.I.D. operation costs actually increase due to many factors, such as increased staffing needs to operate the canals at a lower flow, communication and outreach costs, and technical support to customers. The K.I.D. Board of Directors approved a $1 million drought relief fund. $500,000 of this fund is allocated to installation of automated gates, which are currently being installed.

Since the 2005 drought, K.I.D.’s capital improvement program has spent more than $10 million dollars to improve canals and increase water efficiency district wide. K.I.D. is completing a 9 mile phase of the canal lining project during this off-season. Some of the funds are from Water Smart grants, and the rest are from the District’s assessments and reserves.

“We have watched as our neighbors to the south and southeast have suffered through devastating droughts and we have learned from them…K.I.D. has been proactively getting ready for this event for years…We have established a comprehensive drought plan, made improvements to our water system, and we are actively engaged in efforts to help secure water for our customers into the future” said Kirk Rathbun, K.I.D. Board of Directors president. K.I.D.’s extensive drought plan includes steps to ensure that all customers will receive water based upon availability and upon priority. The plan also establishes practices for procuring additional water supplies and discusses the measures the district takes to protect our customers against drought and increase efficient use of the water allotted.

The drought fund includes money for outreach and education efforts for K.I.D. customers. “Water is a finite resource…smart water use can no longer be a choice, it is a requirement of living in the west (e.g. California)” said Rathbun. Customers are strongly encouraged to start now to retrain their lawns to prepare for less water and that means allowing root systems to dig down deeper to cope better during drier years.

K.I.D. is in the process of connecting with community groups, such as Home Owner Associations and landscape companies to conduct informational meetings. Organized groups comprised of K.I.D. customers may contact K.I.D. to be included in these events.

Read more efficiency and conservation tips under District News on our website and also, on our Facebook site at /KennewickIrrigationDistrict.

Read the entire K.I.D. Drought Plan by clicking on the Drought Plan link located on the front page of our website: www.kid.org.