Kachess Lake <b>(Courtesy Ricardo Martins)</b>

Kachess Lake (Courtesy Ricardo Martins)

A massive plan to improve irrigation for growers who tap the Yakima River system passed a major hurdle when a Senate panel approved $92 million in funding.

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Nov. 19 approved a bill authorizing funds over the next 10 years for the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Management Plan, which calls for  projects that improve fish passage, expand water supplies, address drought, and enhances conservation.

The plan faces several more hurdles, including approval by the Washington State Legislature and the full Senate and House of Representatives.

The bill’s sponsor is Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, who says the bill provides a blueprint for handling water dispute in other western states.

Among the features of the plan is pumps to draw additional water from Lake Kachess, a resource used by both recreational users and orchardists. The 30-year plan calls for a new dam at Bumping Lake and off stream storage at Wyler Lake.

The Seattle Times reported on the Senate action.

Read Good Fruit Grower’s report on the water management plan.