Yakima River Basin water projects

The Yakima Basin is home to 400,000 people and a $4.5 billion agriculture industry. With warming winter temperatures threatening aquifers and snowpack, the Basin is facing the challenges of water supplies under pressure. Our projects seek to achieve water resiliency. We work in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Yakama Nation, farmers, cities, counties, and environmental advocates to find collaboative solutions and stabilize water supplies for future generations.

In 2013, the Legislature authorized funding for the initial development phase of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, a consensus-based effort to assure sustainable water supplies for families, farms, and fish in the Yakima River Basin over the next 30 years.

Projects and activities outlined in the plan's first phase are designed to quickly improve streamflows, habitat, and fish passage, and secure water for farms, cities, and industry, especially during times of drought and to respond to climate change.

Projects identified in the overall 30-year plan seek to achieve water security through one or more these goals:

  • Enhanced water conservation
  • Structural and operational changes
  • Fish passage
  • Habitat protection and enhancement
  • Water markets
  • Surface and groundwater storage
The scenic Yakima River offers both recreational and tribal fishing, and is home to important salmon and trout species supported by projects outlined in the Yakima Integrated Plan. (Photo credit: Rick Roeder)

The Yakima Basin Integrated Plan identifies a comprehensive list of projects to achieve water security and resiliency for both instream and out-of-stream needs in response to increasing years of drought and predictions of climate change.

First development phase

We are embarking on the Initial Development Phase (the first 10 years), implementing projects that quickly improve streamflows, habitat, and fish passage for salmon and steelhead, and secure water for farms, cities, and industry that help drive a healthy economy.

Priorities in the first 10 year phase of the plan include:

  • Fish passage at Cle Elum Reservoir to support salmon.
  • Three-foot pool raise to capture more water at Cle Elum Reservoir.
  • The Kachess Drought Relief Pumping Plant that would access stored water to meet irrigation water needs only during times of drought.

Our story map on the plan's seven elements and its initial development phase offers information on fish passage, water conservation, habitat enhancement, and storage projects. 

Projects taking the long view

Overall goals of the plan take a 30-year view and all projects will focus on one or more of these seven elements:

  • Reservoir fish passage
  • Structural and operational changes
  • Enhanced water conservation
  • Habitat/watershed protection and enhancement
  • Groundwater storage
  • Surface water storage
  • Market reallocation (water banking and water market)

Learn about all the projects associated with the overall Yakima Basin plan by viewing the story map.