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Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan

In partnership with regional water interests and stakeholders, our state has been instrumental in developing water solutions for the Yakima River Basin.

The Yakima Basin Integrated Water Management Plan offers a commonsense approach to solving decades of water conflicts in the Yakima River Basin. It offers a 30-year vision for responding to drought and changing climate, assuring water is clean and ample, and lands are both protected and productive for growing communities and the natural environment.

The Yakima Basin Integrated Plan: This River Runs Forever

Seeking integrated water solutions

Our Office of Columbia River helped develop a new approach for water resource management that sets aside historic clashes over water, helping us to respond during times of drought and to prepare for a changing climate.

The Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Management Plan builds on decades of work to achieve water security that began in the 1980s through the federal Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project.

Years of litigation and successive droughts brought irrigation districts, environmental organizations, the Yakama Nation, and federal, state, county and city governments to the table to form the Yakima River Basin work group to develop the plan.

In 2013, the Legislature recognized the need to find sustainable water solutions that meet both instream and out-of-stream benefits in the region by authorized funding for the initial development phase of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.

Protecting and restoring a diverse watershed

The Yakima River flows through Kittitas and Yakima counties and empties into the Columbia River in Benton County. Snowpack in the Cascade Range feeds the river supporting fertile valley crops, streamflows, and groundwater resources. The river and its tributaries are home to important fish spawning, rearing, and ocean migration as part of the greater Columbia River watershed.

Roza Canal

This irrigation canal helps support the Yakima Basin's $4.5 billion agricultural industry.

The basin has a population of nearly 400,000 people and supports the federal Bureau of Reclamation's large Yakima Irrigation Project, local irrigation districts and some of the state's earliest water rights for individuals and cities. Apples, cherries, wine grapes, hops, corn, and hay are top crops produced in the watershed, supporting a $4.5 billion agriculture growing and processing industry

Bull trout at Deep Creek

A bull trout in Deep Creek. Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Projects provide instream flows, reservoir passage, and habitat improvements for threatened and endangered runs of salmon and bull trout. Photo credit: Eric Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The watershed is the ancestral home to the Yakama Indian Nation, whose rights memorialized in the Treaty of 1855 recognize inherent fishing, hunting, and migration rights, including those supporting important salmon species. The river hosts a variety of endangered and threatened fish species and offers some of the best opportunities for sockeye reintroduction and habitat restoration in the state.

The region has experienced numerous droughts, including an unprecedented snowpack drought in 2015. And climate change predictions forecast the valley's precipitation will change from snow to rain.

Moving forward

Goals of the 30-year water resiliency plan are to protect and enhance fish and natural resources, improve water availability and reliability, establish more efficient water markets, manage the variability of water supplies, and prepare for the uncertainties of climate change through operational and structural changes.

The plan addresses seven elements:

  • Fish passage
  • Fish habitat enhancement
  • Modifying existing irrigation structures and operations
  • Surface storage
  • Water market-based reallocation (water banks)
  • Groundwater storage
  • Enhanced water conservation

Phased implementation

Through state, federal, local, and private funding, we're moving the initial development phase of Yakima Basin Integrated Plan forward. Projects in the plan advance concurrently some portion of the seven elements. The overall plan is outlined in Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan environmental impact statement.

More Information 

Yakima Integrated Plan videos
Yakima Basin projects story map web page.

Reports

Most recent

12/20/17 Water Quality Study: Results of Lake Kachess Pumping Alternatives -- Study explores the water quality impacts of the proposed Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant project. Alternatives were designed to help protect water quality and fish populations.
06/2017 Economic Report: Water Security for the Yakima River Basin’s Economy, Communities, and Watersheds
Economic Report: Executive Summary
03/2017 YRBWEP Technical Memorandum Hydrologic Modeling of System Improvements Phase 3 Report


All other reports posted on US Bureau of Reclamation partnership page.