How to plan for water use at your Yakima Basin cabin

The Yakima Basin has lots to offer in the summer – warm weather, abundant sunshine, fresh produce, and plenty to do outdoors. If you own one of the hundreds of cabins in the area, you probably agree.

However, summer can also mean dry conditions and less water to go around. We’re currently experiencing a drought that has severely reduced water supply in the Yakima Basin, with the latest forecast projecting only 48 percent. That’s the lowest since 2015.

With a hot, dry season ahead – and likely more in the coming years – make sure you know if you can legally use water at your camp or cabin in the Yakima Basin, and that your use is mitigated.

Not sure? Get in touch, and we’re happy to help you find out.

Limited water supply in the Yakima Basin

State law requires that water users with the oldest rights must be fully satisfied before other users can receive water. This means that during dry years, junior water users will not receive their full supply.

For camp and cabin owners relying on surface water, this has often meant having their water shut off during drought. We’ve been working with these water users to mitigate their water use and avoid future shutoffs.

We’re focusing on existing camps and cabins that have been using water since before 2006, and we’re currently in the final stage of permitting and mitigating for these water users.

A map of Washington state shaded orange to show most of the state in a drought.

Most of the state is experiencing a drought. In the Yakima Basin, with only an estimated 48 percent of normal water supply, this means there’s not enough water to go around, and you could be shut off if you have a junior water right.

If you own a cabin or campground in the Yakima Basin, please contact us to ensure your water use is mitigated.

Avoiding shutoffs

If you have not yet obtained mitigation, you can purchase it to offset the amount you’ll use. Note: not all cabins can be mitigated, like those in critical habitats and high elevations. 

Mitigation for a single rustic cabin may cost as little as $40. Your total costs depend on the amount of water used, with mitigation at $3643 per ac-ft of water. That $3643 per ac-ft covers what Ecology spent to buy the water right for mitigation. Other fees include:

  • Storage fee – $22 per ac-ft multiplied by years left in storage contract
  • Contract fee – $350
  • Report of examination for new water right (if required) – $500

To learn more about the program and how to calculate mitigation, visit our website or contact:
Andrea Reyes
Cost reimbursement coordinator