The Kittitas Reclamation District is making upgrades that improve conservation efforts and provide about 25 miles of habitat for fish in Manastash Creek.

KRD is upgrading two laterals and adding a new turnout that will supplement water to Manastash Creek.

The improvements should be the final steps in the Manastash Creek Conservation and Tributary Enhancement Project, which was the first construction project to break ground as part of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, said KRD Manager Urban Eberhart.

"It's a combination of different items just to finish up the project and tie up loose ends and make it more usable for additional conserved water," Eberhart said.

The Manastash Creek Project, which was originally completed in 2014, converted 3.2 miles of a KRD canal to a pressured pipeline, conserving more than 1,200 acre-feet of water annually.

An acre-foot is equal to roughly 326,000 gallons.

The pressured pipeline reduced seepage, improved local irrigation system reliability and on-farm efficiencies through the use of pressurized sprinkler systems.

As a part of the project, KRD agreed to supplement Manastash Creek with 3.5 cubic feet per second of water via that Manastash Creek spillway.

But fluctuations in the south branch canal make it difficult to maintain a constant 3.5 CFS spill into the creek, said Kevin Eslinger, assistant manager.

Unlike the spillway, the turnout will draw water from the bottom of the canal, which will make it possible to maintain a steady flow of water.

That water provides access to 25 miles of habitat for steelhead, coho, bull trout and spring chinook in a creek that historically runs dry each irrigation season.

Eberhart said the turnout also provides room to drop more water in Manastash Creek as more conservation projects are completed.

Construction will be finished before the irrigation season begins on April 15.

The upgrades, which cost roughly $240,000, were funded by the state of Washington through the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.

The project involved partnerships with the Washington State Department of Ecology, U.S Bureau of Reclamation, KRD, Manastash Creek water users and the Kittitas County Conservation District.


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