There's been plenty of snowfall in the mountains this winter, and irrigation district officials anticipate there should be ample water this season for lawns and farms.
"We had a fairly mild winter and the reservoirs are full. There's lots of good cold snow in the high alpine regions -- White and Snoqualmie passes -- that feed our reservoirs, Rimrock and Bumping lakes and the three reservoirs along I-90," said Scott Revell, planning manager for the Kennewick Irrigation District.
A good snowpack means a steady stream of water as it melts. White Pass has 61 inches of snow and Snoqualmie 91 inches, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
"What many people don't realize is there's more water in the snow than in the reservoirs. So having a good snow pack is good as long as it doesn't melt off too fast," Revell said.
Even so, practicing water conservation year round is a good practice, to avoid late-season restrictions when water supplies run low. Officials recommend irrigating at noon to help spread the demand through the day.
"People think they're saving water irrigating in the morning because it's cooler, but that creates a spike in the demand. The canals can only deliver so much water so fast. So if everyone's using it at the same time it draws the water level down," Revell said.
Deep watering every three days forces lawn grasses and other plants to produce deep roots, making them more drought-resistant, he said.
KID will begin filling its canal system April 1, but customers won't have water available for a week or so after that.
"It takes several days to fill and flush the canals and take care of any problems that have occurred over the off-season. Burrowing animals can cause problems, valves can freeze and break," Revell said.
KID customers often get antsy for water in the spring as soon as they see the Columbia Basin Irrigation canals filling, Revell said. CID typically opens its headgates and begins filling canals a few weeks before KID legally can fill its canals.
"According to our water rights agreement, we can only have water in the canals from April 1 to Oct. 31," he said.
Even after the headgates are opened, it takes several days for the water to fill the canals. KID diverts water from the Yakima River at the dam in Prosser. It takes 36 hours, plus or minus, to get to Kennewick and another two days or so to get to customers in Finley, Revell said.
He cautions all irrigation water users in all districts to hold off using the water for a few days to allow sediment to settle.
"Otherwise they'll be cleaning their filters and sprinklers constantly at first," he said.
For a complete schedule of KID's water deliveries, go to www.kid.org and click on the map under "news center."
Turn on dates for all districts:
-- Kennewick Irrigation District: Water will begin filling the delivery system on April 1 and customers can expect to have irrigation water about a week later.
-- Columbia Irrigation District: Water will enter the main canal system March 20. All customers can expect water at their properties the first week in April or mid-month at the latest.
-- Roza Irrigation District: Water will enter the main canal on March 17 and all customers should have water available within the week.
-- South Columbia Basin Irrigation District: Water to the Mattawa area will begin flowing on March 20, to the Potholes area in Franklin County on March 30 and to Walla Walla County on March 20. Irrigation to Block 18 of the East Low Canal will start March 28. Landowners must contact their local watermaster for delivery dates.
-- East Columbia Basin Irrigation District: Irrigation water for all areas of the East Low Canal serving Moses Lake, Warden and Othello will begin on March 20. Individual deliveries will depend on demand in the individual lateral systems. Water users should contact their watermasters in Moses Lake or Othello or the ditch riders for their areas.
-- Quincy Irrigation District: Water will begin flowing in the West Canal March 13, and irrigation should be available the first week of April. Water users are advised to contact their watermasters for information and schedules.
-- Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District: Water will be spilled into the main Sunnyside canal on March 19, the Snipes Canal in the Outlook/Sunnyside areas on March 25, the Snipes laterals and Mabton lateral in the Sunnyside/Mabton area on March 26, the canals in the Outlook/Granger/Prosser/Grandview areas on March 27, and the Matheson, Prosser and other laterals in the Grandview/Prosser area on March 28.
-- Benton Irrigation District: Water deliveries will begin April 1.
-- Franklin County Irrigation District: Canals will begin filling March 25 and customers can expect to have water for irrigation within two weeks.
-- Badger Mountain Irrigation District: Water is scheduled to be available for customers by April 8.
-- Kiona Irrigation District: Water is scheduled to reach customers' properties April 15.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org