The Washington Department of Ecology is asking that all surface water diversions in the Yakima River basin be measured to assure that stream flows and senior water rights are protected.
DOE's proposed order will be considered by Yakima County Superior Court Judge Walter Stauffacher next week, on Thursday, Aug. 11.
DOE officials said some large water users already measure and report Yakima and Naches river diversions as part of a 1994 court order. The DOE is seeking all other surface water claimants with confirmed rights along the Yakima, Tieton and Naches rivers and tributaries to install meters and record their water use. If approved by Stauffacher, the new measuring requirement would take effect in spring 2006.
"Competition for water peaks during droughts," said Bob Barwin, a DOE water resource manager.
"One way to ensure that water is well managed is for all water users to measure what they divert," Barwin added.
If approved by Stauffacher, those diverting 1 cubic feet per second of water or more and who aren't already reporting their use to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will be required to annually report their water use to the DOE.