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Ample irrigation supply predicted for local farmers

With plenty of snow in the mountains this year the 2008 outlook for the Yakima Valley's water supply is looking good, according to Don Schramm, auditing officer for the Sunnyside Division Board of Control for the Yakima Irrigation Project.

Schramm yesterday (Tuesday) told the board the outlook looks very favorable, noting there have been several storms to come through the mountain passes and more are expected.

Current water storage in the three reservoirs is 85 percent of average so far.

"It always makes you feel good when you're close to average at this time of the year," he said.

Precipitation in the mountains is 95 percent of average. Schramm said precipitation is important because it gives a specific number of how much moisture is falling into the basin.

"It lets us know how much water you have to start with," he explained.

The most important sign of a good water year is accumulated snowpack and Schramm told the board this year's snowpack is 115 percent of average.

He explained that even if a reservoir is full, it will only meet 40 percent of the valley's needs. The reservoirs in the Cascade mountains must fill up two and a half times to provide enough water for the farming season.

Having a solid snowpack should keep the reservoirs full well into next summer.

"Things look very favorable, barring anything unusual," Schramm added.

An unusual occurrence would be a warm front that came in and melted the snow quickly, causing it to go through the system and cause flooding.

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