Abysmal Snowpack Conditions

Abysmal Snowpack Conditions

Abysmal Snowpack Conditions

I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.

Scott Pattee, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Mount Vernon says that currently Washington is sitting at 27% of normal for snowpack, but there is some good news.

PATTEE: I can tell you right now the main stem Columbia is in pretty good shape because there’s lots of snow and lots of water up in Canada; so that should keep the Columbia flowing just slightly below normal but nothing that’s going to put in any peril at all. So irrigators that are pumping out of the Columbia are going to be fine.

Pattee says for those pulling water out of tributaries, well that’s a different story.

PATTEE: The Upper Yakima is sitting at 22% of normal, the lower Yakima is 33% of normal, the Walla Walla is 44%. We’re getting close to record low levels there.

Earlier this week the Bureau of Reclamation announced that some Yakima Basin irrigation districts may receive roughly 73% of normal water amounts due to this year’s abysmal snowpack conditions. So far 2005 holds the record low for state snowpack levels.

PATTEE: And if we have another month like it’s shaping up to be right now, like we did last month, we’re going to shatter most of those records. The good news is that like in the Yakima there they do have the five big reservoirs. All five of those are pretty much brimming full so that’s a really good start; unlike 2005 where we had low reservoir levels coming into spring.

Pattee says conservation and efficiency are what’s needed to help irrigators and the general populace better survive a possible drought. Hope remains for spring rains and the arrival of late mountain snow.

That’s Washington Ag Today.

I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.

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