PESHASTIN — Irrigators’ and orchardists’ prayers and rain dances were answered Friday as they face a reduced water supply.
The Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation Districts will soon need to start prorating users’ water supply on the Peshastin Main Canal, said Tony Jantzer, Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation District manager.
Peshastin Creek does not have enough water for its demands and the irrigation district is now pulling water out of Icicle Creek.
“We’re right on the cusp right now of having to prorate,” Jantzer said. “This rain that we’re getting today will help and may push proration back a few days, and every day we cannot cut their water is a day they can have that full water supply for their trees.”
The irrigation district doesn’t know exactly when it will start prorating, he said. It will keep things going until the water doesn’t reach the end of the canal.
But the cherries have already been picked and farmers are just getting ready to pick their pears, Jantzer said. It is a critical time for pear orchardists and every day the irrigation district can hold off on reducing the water supply the better.
“Right now is when the pears are putting on their weight,” he said. “They’re getting big and they’re putting out their boxes ready to pick. So this is that critical time to size up their pears.”
The canals lasted longer than expected, though, he said. Jantzer originally estimated it would be sometime in July when the irrigation district would need to start prorating.
“The weather pattern has been pretty moderate for us,” he said. “It has been good. This is our first real hot spell. So the snow, what there was of it, lasted longer than we thought it would.”
The farmers themselves have helped increase the length of the season, Jantzer said. Irrigators knew they faced a potential drought and managed their crops accordingly.
“The farmers are doing a good job of keeping their water use down and not watering things,” he said. “Their cherries are all picked. Those trees still need water at some point, but they’re putting the water on their pears.”