LEAVENWORTH — The Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation Districts are considering a plan that would lead to retiring the Peshastin diversion on Peshastin Creek.

The irrigation districts would like to build two pump stations along the Wenatchee River to pump water into its canals, said Tony Jantzer, Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation Districts manager. One pump would be placed near Dryden and the second pump near Monitor.

The two pumps would allow the irrigation district to retire the Peshastin diversion, which has been in operation since the 1890s and provides 48.8 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water, Jantzer said. It would mean that water would be returned to Peshastin Creek, which would benefit fish and restore the creek.

The plan would also lead to about 17 cfs being added to Icicle Creek’s flows, he said.

The two-pump idea is an important change because the irrigation districts are a part of the Icicle Creek Workgroup. The workgroup includes several stakeholders interested in increasing flows in Icicle Creek to improve salmon habitat.

An important part of the plan includes the Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation District pump in Cashmere. The idea for the pump is instead of collecting water from Icicle Creek for irrigation, the districts would pull it out of the Wenatchee River further downstream.

The only problem with the two-pump solution is energy costs, Jantzer said. The irrigation districts don’t want to be held hostage to future energy price increases.

“Electric rates are very volatile type of thing,” he said. “So basically the district is really afraid of putting in a pump station and being tied to it, because, Who knows?”

To compensate for this, the district is planning to place a hydro project on property it owns on Snow Creek, Jantzer said. The hydro project would generate the power for the two pumps.

The hydro project would not have much impact on Snow Creek, he said. Snow Creek is not a fish-bearing stream and has about a 30 percent grade. The hydro project would also have a pipe on Snow Creek that would lead to a power station on the bank of Icicle Creek so it wouldn’t dam the creek.

It would also allow the irrigation district to not use carbon fuels to power its pumps, he said. Without the hydro project the district would need to get energy from somewhere else.

“It’s not in the wilderness, it is on our own ground and it is not fish habitat,” Jantzer said. “It gets us a lot of really positive environmental things.”

Environment, county and health reporter

Tony Buhr has been a professional reporter for almost seven years. He worked for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin as a cops and courts reporter. The Ellensburg Daily Records as a cops and courts, breaking news, agriculture and water reporter.