Specifically, the Yakima River Basin Plan would:
- Provide greater water supply reliability for farmers and communities.
- Secure the water that communities need to meet current and future demand.
- Protect over 200,000 acres of currently unprotected forest, shrub steppe, and river habitat.
- Enhance habitat along the Yakima River and its tributaries.
- Implement water marketing and banking so that water is more easily delivered when and where needed.
- Build fish passage to allow salmon, steelhead
The Yakima River Basin is one of the leading agricultural regions in Washington State and throughout the country. The orchardists, wine grape growers, and other members of the agricultural community inject approximately $3.2 billion into Washington’s economy and support countless jobs in the area. However, the demand for water in the region currently exceeds the resources available, especially during times of drought, which have hit the state especially hard in the past few years. As a result, water use has been restricted for junior water rights holders - or individuals who obtained water rights in 1905 or later – during times of shortages.
With researchers predicting that drought seasons will only become more common and get worse as snowpack in the mountains continues to decline.
Newhouse and his constituents say action needed to be taken so that stakeholders in the Yakima Basin can continue operating without having to worry about whether or not they will be able to water their crops or their backyard garden.