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Roza shutting canals down for April

Roza shutting down canals for April

It's a sign of things to come this summer with the impending drought on the horizon.

The Roza Irrigation District has taken the drastic step of shutting down the water flow of its 90-mile long irrigation canal for the month of April.

Beginning today, April 6, the irrigation district is shutting off the water at its head gates and will begin draining the canal system. Water was delivered to irrigation customers earlier this week, but because of a lack of available water it is expected that by late Friday, Roza growers will completely lose access to any water for at least the next three weeks.

Roza officials are taking this step because of inadequate water flows in the Yakima River.

This action by Roza officials marks the first time in the history of the junior water district that the Roza Canal has ran dry in the month of April.

Officials at Roza are expected to turn water back on into the canal by late April or early May, depending on run-off.

Roza currently provides irrigation water to 72,000 acres of farm land in the Valley.

Roza is currently purchasing water transfers from individuals holding senior water rights, at $300 an acre.

The lack of water could create a problem for growers in the fruit and wine grape industries, who have come to rely on irrigation water rather than fossil fuels to protect crops from spring frost. Historically, the most damaging frost in the Valley has occurred in April.

The anticipated drought this year is expected to cost the Central Washington economy $1 billion, according to officials from the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance. This year will mark the third drought to hit Central Washington in the last 12 years.

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