CASHMERE — Some irrigators in the Wenatchee Valley will likely have their allocated amount of water reduced this year due to a drought.
The state Department of Ecology is expecting the water year to be at about 70 percent of normal, said Tony Jantzer, Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation Districts manager.
The water levels in the creek will start to dip in July and the Peshastin irrigators will be hit first.
“I’m a little afraid of what will happen to the Peshastin diversion on Peshastin Creek, because there is no storage up that creek; and during a drought year, that creek will go down pretty far,” Jantzer said.
The reservoirs are fairly full at the moment, he said. The irrigation district will be closing the dam at Eightmile Lake on Friday to try and fill the lake up completely. The water level at Eightmile Lake has been reduced while the irrigation district works on the dam there.
“It is not just us that needs the water,” Jantzer said. “In a year like this, we’ll try to release all of our water from the lakes. If we don’t need it, the stream needs it sort of thing.”
The greatest impact from the drought will likely be felt in August, he said. But the impact to irrigators will be in July when orchardists are trying to enlarge their fruit.
“The later crops that try to size up in the July and August timeframe, those are the things that are in danger,” Jantzer said.
Junior water right holders on the Wenatchee River will likely be shut off, he said. The Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation Districts don’t have any junior water right holders, but there are some on the Wenatchee River.
It will be a tough year for irrigators across Eastern Washington. Some irrigators in the Yakima Basin have already had their water rationed or shut off, according to the state Department of Ecology.
In Okanogan County, the state Department of Ecology is raising the water level of Osoyoos Lake by half a foot to provide 3,000 acre-feet of additional water for irrigators. The state Department of Ecology will wait until mid-August to start releasing water.