Pumping Station To Re-Open & Snowpack Levels
I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports that the John W. Keys III Pump Generating Plant that was damaged by fire November 18 will be up and running in time for spring irrigation needs. The Grand Coulee Dam pumping station has six pumps and six pump generators, all of which were contaminated by smoke residue from the fire, and needed to be thoroughly cleaned and tested before being returned to full operating power. Cleaning on the Keys Plant began December 6. The Bureau expects to have all six pumps back up and running on or before March 1, and able to fill Banks Lake in time to supply a normal amount of irrigation water in the Columbia Basin.
USDA meteorologist Eric Luebehusen says that the start of the western mountain snowpack season has been very disappointing, to say the least, leaving many irrigators here in the Pacific Northwest concerned about where their water might come from this spring and summer.
LUEBEHUSEN: Across much of the Pacific Coast region we're looking at current water year precipitation averaging anywhere between 20% of normal to 30 to 40% of normal. Not only are we seeing this impacting mountains and the snow water equivalent, but we're also seeing some of the more heavily populated areas, and this certainly is setting the stage for enhanced wildfire activity.
Luebehusen also reports that inland soil moisture in the winter wheat areas of the Snake River Valley and the Palouse region is on the decline, stretching between the Cascade range and on eastward into the Rockies.
LUEBEHUSEN: Since the beginning of October rain and snow has totaled in some cases as low as 15% of normal. The snowpack in the Northwest is off to a real bad start, so you can take a look at that snow water equivalent and that mountain recharge, and we're just not seeing it.
That's Washington Ag Today.
I'm Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.