One thought to keep in your mind as you gaze at the temperature reading on your phone’s weather app, the one unquestioned “winner” this winter is water.

Based on reports the snow level is not as consistent as you would think across the Cascades but it is good enough that junior water right holders are projected as of March to get 90 percent of allocations.

It has been an odd winter, in that there was almost no winter weather in December and January with the pace picking up dramatically in February.

While the lingering winter may be annoying for those eager for spring (such as high school spring sport athletes), overall the late winter turned out to be the best-case scenario for local agriculture and the overall community.

Water is critical to Kittitas County — its agricultural economy, residential water supply and fire safety.

There are summer factors that ratchet up our fire risk, but a winter without a snowpack adds to drought conditions, which means the risk is higher from the start.

In terms of agriculture, timothy hay is the county’s primary crop. Our agriculture does not compare to the large farms of the Midwest or even Eastern Washington, but timothy hay plays an outsized role in the aesthetic of Kittitas County.

It not only generates revenue but it keeps much of our landscape in agriculture. Kittitas County would look and feel a lot different without timothy hay as a viable crop.

This is one of the factors that make water watching one of the more popular winter pastimes. The one catch is it does not get serious until the end of the winter season after we’ve avoided a January pineapple express and weather of that nature.

So, that persistent snow covering in Kittitas County is good news. You should be happy every day you crunch your way through it walking out to your car or around town.

While the snow is good news for this spring and summer, progress made at the federal level in terms of support for the Yakima Integrated Water Basin plan is hopeful news for years to come, as well.

Water is an extraordinarily complex issue with a wide range of parties and entities with an interest and stake. Any progress made toward improving water systems and efficiencies is news that’s celebrated across the spectrum.

A good winter for water is a good winter for all of Kittitas County. While it may not feel like it when you’re bundled up heading to work on another single-digit morning, eventually it will warm and we will be grateful for the late winter we endured.


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