The Yakima Plan is a model for climate adaptation, sustainable water management, and salmon recovery. A recent article, “Yakima Basin farmers want more water, sooner” [NWSunday, Dec. 6] understates many of the plan’s environmental benefits, which include returning salmon and steelhead to the wilderness headwaters of the Yakima Basin for the first time in a century, conserving 170,000 acre-feet of water, restoring more than 3,000 acres of floodplains, and protecting source waters from the Teanaway to the Tieton rivers.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has earned our gratitude for her leadership in sponsoring S. 1694 to authorize the first 10-year phase of the Yakima plan.
Cantwell listened to environmental organizations, including both supporters and skeptics of the plan, and made changes to improve the public process for review of water-supply projects, to prioritize smart management tools like efficiency measures and water markets, and to allow for consideration of a project to access water stored below the outlet of the Kachess reservoir’s fish-blocking water-supply dam. That consideration appropriately does not extend to another potential proposal — not part of the Yakima Plan — to access some of that water in 2016 if it is another water-short year.
Michael Garrity, Tacoma, regional director of American Rivers