The drought of 2015 proved to be one for the record books, and it took the efforts of our entire community to get through it. We want to take a moment to thank everyone who cooperated with the District watering schedule. As many of you have come to learn, KID is unique among other Yakima River water rights holders. We rely on water returned to the river from upstream water users and during a water short year the limited and fluctuating water supply made operating the canals less than ideal. Together we faced new challenges, and while it is never easy working through new challenges, we were encouraged by the support of our customers and our community. We also want to thank KID Customer Service, Operations, Management, and all other staff for their hard work and long hours delivering water and assisting customers.
With the 2015 water season behind us, we are looking to the next year and the many years that follow. Climatologists are predicting drier than normal conditions for next year. We may have even less water to work with. With this in mind, KID will continue working on water efficiency projects during the off-season: canal lining, installation of automated gates, reservoir construction and other affordable projects, all in preparation for drought conditions.
Additionally, we continually work to ensure water security for the District. We will continue to monitor and promote the Integrated Plan and Senate Bill 1694, which helps to ensure that KID is not harmed by upstream water conservation, while supporting our sister districts’ efforts to secure water for their areas. We will continue to work with the USBR to electrify the Chandler Pumping plant, which will leave more water in the river for both irrigation and fish habitat purposes.
At our community meeting this summer, many of our customers were in favor of the District’s continued pursuit of using the Columbia River. The effort to access Columbia River water will be painstaking. Current legal and political realities demand we cooperate with Tribal, State, and Federal interests to gain the support needed for approval. The list of private and public agencies that must be consulted, and then lend support, is extremely long. Logistically, accessing Columbia River water is easy. However, fiscally, regulatory, politically, and legally, it is a steep hill to climb. That being said, you spoke and we listened; we will continue to pursue the Columbia River water right.
In closing, with the likelihood of a consecutive drought next year, please plan for what you can do to give your lawn and vegetation a fighting chance next summer, and how you can work with your neighbors to continue making the most of what we have.
Again, thank you to each one of you who cooperated with the schedule: it worked, and we commend you for your help and support.