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As another water season comes to a close, I reflect on our district’s performance. This has been a year filled with real change and challenge.
The year began with a very aggressive program to line more of our canals. The continued impact of rodents on our canal system is a reminder of just how much we need to stay the course and continue to improve our canals through lining projects. Although there is much more to be done, I want to say that I am very proud of the self-performed work of our team and their positive attitudes while taking on such a huge project.
As we moved into the water delivery season, Mother Nature provided a much needed improvement over last year’s drought conditions, for this we are thankful. However, your KID board of directors has all personally experienced the pain felt by our community in these water short years. We are focused on finding ways to improve our situation during those times. Currently, KID participates in a group working on what is known as the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. It is a multi-phase master plan, which involves many different groups of Yakima River water users and aims to address issues related to fish, farms and families. As time goes on, you will likely hear more about the Integrated Plan in the news, as things unfold and congress does what it can to help solve the water issues in the west and to look for ways to mitigate future droughts.
KID supports the Integrated Plan in a way that does not harm our water supply. KID is at the end of the project line: being a return flow district means that every change made upstream has an impact on our valuable water supply; sometimes that is for the better and sometimes, not. Therefore, KID is working with the group to find common ground to increase water storage, improve water conditions for fish and wildlife needs, improve conservation efforts and options to preserve and protect your district’s water rights. In making this happen, KID would like to see the Chandler pumping plant updated to use electric power as a way to keep more water in the river during low water years. Currently, Chandler uses water to drive the pumps; in fact it takes more water to turn the pumps than what is pulled out and made available for deliveries. By updating Chandler to electric pumps, we free up a huge amount of water that can be put to better use. I encourage you to help the district get this valuable message out to our representatives, let them know that each piece of the plan will impact you and our community.
In addition to electrification efforts, we are also looking at additional sources of water supply for the district, because it is not prudent to rely on just one solution to the large scale challenges water users face in the west. One option our crews are currently working on is a well to recapture water that was previously lost to seepage and irrigation application over the years. In addition to our capital projects, we listened when you asked about seeking Columbia River water and so, we are looking at an option that would allow us to pull part of our water supply from the Columbia River. Columbia River water would certainly help us to have a more reliable source of water by diversifying our supply. Vigilant efforts to sustain water security for our district are necessary and they do come at a cost. We understand that financial impacts can be tough for most families and that is why we are working hard to find the best solutions to keep the financial impact as low as possible.
As we move into the water off season, rest assured, we understand the impacts of breaks, outages and delays and we want you to know that we will be out in full force making improvements and changes to the delivery system in order to better serve all.
On behalf of your board of directors, I want to thank you for your support and your feedback throughout the years.