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Irrigation water in canals

With the drought of 2005 a distant memory, local irrigation districts are priming the pump for the 2006 farm season.

"We started priming this morning," Don Schramm of the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District (SVID) said on Monday of this week.

According to a priming schedule provided by SVID, irrigation water should be available in the Zillah and Whitstran areas this week.

By next Monday, water priming should continue for Prosser, Grandview and Sunnyside. Granger should be primed next Tuesday.

"It's pretty typical," Schramm said of the start date for irrigation. "We prime in late March and water should be available for all users by the first of April."

The Roza Irrigation District started priming its canal this week as well, noted Operations Manager Tom Monroe.

"We should start making some deliveries (of water) upstream by the end of this week," he said. "We should be able to make deliveries to anywhere (within the Roza Irrigation district) next week."

Monroe said Roza turned on the irrigation water a little later this year than in 2005.

"Last year it was March 14 when we turned the water on because we knew we'd have to turn it off for awhile because of the drought," he said.

Roza, a junior water rights holder, had to shut off its irrigation water for three weeks last April just to ensure sufficient supply through last summer. Further, Roza spent $3 million for a temporary water transfer from SVID in order to make it to last Sept. 30.

Wetter days are here again in 2006, Monroe and Schramm agree, because of a healthy snowpack in the Cascade Mountains.

"The snowpack is excellent, 120 percent of average for this time of year," Schramm said. "It definitely won't be a repeat of last year." He noted the snowpack should last long enough to meet SVID's irrigation needs into July. After that, SVID can provide water through the rest of the irrigation season by pulling water from storage.

"The Bureau (of Reclamation) is telling us there's a good snowpack and everybody will have a normal water supply," Monroe said. "The reservoirs are 67 to 70 percent of normal, but bear in mind they were so low going into last fall from the drought."

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