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Thought I'd post this email I just received. I think this is great news for the YAK and all of us.


Ecology Department acquires water rights to help Yakima basin flows

OLYMPIA - Water that once turned power turbines for nearly a century and
irrigated crops for more than 120 years will instead flow freely back into
the Naches and Yakima rivers.

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) recently signed two agreements worth
more than $1.2 million to permanently acquire two large water rights in the
region. The department will hold the water in trust to enhance stream flows
in the Yakima basin.

Ecology will contribute $1 million to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation(Bureau) to purchase a 1904 hydropower generation water right at the Naches
power-plant complex in Yakima County. The water right currently is held by the PacifiCorp utility company.

Up to 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water will be returned to a seven-mile stretch of the Naches River, depending on the time of year. The Bureau will assure that irrigation water continues to be available to
farmers who are part of the Wapatox Ditch Company.

The accord is part of a broader $8.5 million deal the Bureau is negotiating with PacifiCorp to purchase both the water right and the land where the two
small power plants now sit. The federal agency also is working to acquire canal easements and other property in order to decommission the old hydroelectric complex.

Ecology also has acquired 169 shares of the Fowler Ditch Association irrigation-water rights from Lester and Emma Roy for $218,010. Some of the association's water rights date back to 1880. The department will allow the
363 acre-feet of water to flow back into the adjacent Yakima River to increase flows during the irrigation season. The Bureau purchased the Roys'400-acre ranch near Union Gap to restore and enhance salmon and streamside
habitat along the river.

"These are important, unprecedented investments," said Ecology Director Tom Fitzsimmons. "It is rare that the state has the opportunity to return permanent supplies of water back into a system that is as economically and
environmentally important as the Yakima basin. The benefits for Washington are practically immeasurable."

Several species of threatened fish, including steelhead and bull trout, inhabit streams and rivers in the Yakima basin. However, the populations were put at risk whenever flows dropped too low during summer months.

"We're pleased with these two purchases because they restore important
habitat for steelhead and salmon in critical reaches for the entire Yakima basin," said Jim Esget of the Bureau of Reclamation.


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Ecology Department acquires water rights to help Ya...

Awesome! Thanks for the info!

I just read an article in the March Fly Rod & Reel, that talked about the Bush administration giving away public water rights, without any public hearings or input, all around the country. (Check it out at http://www.flyrodreel.com/conservation.html for more info.)

It's nice to read something positive about these issues, especially in our state.

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