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The Kittitas Reclamation District is gearing up for a $6.5 million project that is expected to conserve more than 109 million gallons of irrigation water annually.

KRD will receive a nearly $400,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to get the project started with initial designs and the first phase of construction, said Urban Eberhart, KRD manager.

“It is really encouraging for us that we are getting the support we need to help out with conservation within our system and help out the farmers,” Eberhart said.

He said designing can begin right away and he expects the project on the North Branch canal to begin shortly after the irrigation season ends in October.

The project calls for installing concrete over a geomembrane liner over 3.25 miles of the canal between the Johnson Siphon and Wipple Pumping Plant.

“Instead of the water soaking in and leaking out, it will stay in the system,” he said.

Tributaries

Though the water being saved is in the eastern part of the county, Eberhart said KRD will be able to use that water in Upper Yakima River Basin tributaries, such as Manastash, Little or Big creeks.

KRD drops irrigation water in the tributaries to increase flows and provide miles of habitat for fish and wildlife.

Eberhart said Manastash Creek would likely receive the saved water, but it would go to whichever tributary needed it.

The grant from Reclamation is just one source of funding for the project, Eberhart said.

KRD also plans to request state money and money from the Bonneville Power Administration.

The project will be done in stages, which will be dependent on funding.

Eberhart said the nice thing about this project is that it is scalable and the size of each phase can change, depending on funding.

The grant comes from the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project legislation that was passed in 1994. It authorized Reclamation to fund water conservation projects.

The project also falls in line with the goals of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan, which lists KRD canal modifications as priority projects.

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