Kittitas Irrigation District Shuts Off Water More Than 2 Months - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kittitas Irrigation District Shuts Off Water More Than 2 Months Early

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ELLENSBURG, WA.- We all know the drought is severe, but for growers in Kittitas County it just got a whole lot worse, their irrigation water is being shut off two and a half months earlier than usual. 
Kittitas Irrigation is made up of canals that cover more than 300 miles and those canals supply nearly 3,000 people, but this year they've used up all that water. 

“This summer has been a challenge, mostly with the early heat, and it's just been a trying year for growing crops in general, let alone having our water shut off,” local grower Mark Charlton explained. 
The harsh drought forced the Kittitas Reclamation District to shut off water deliveries early Thursday morning; they're usually able to supply growers with water until mid October. 
They say the early shut off will affect some 60,000 acres.  

“I mean we still have two months of summer left and we are not going to be able to irrigate, this landscape is going to change a lot in that amount of time,” Charlton said. 
Mark says fields all over the county are already drying up, and in two months time it'll be even worse, and while many think it's just the crops getting hit, it's not.
The drought's affects are starting to trickle over, causing problems for cattle farmers who buy hay to use as feed. If the farmers aren't able to supply it, their livestock won't be properly fed. 

“The repercussions are going to be felt immediately, but I think they'll still be around for the next several years. There is going to be some reductions in the cattle heard and probably a lot of cooling of cows,” local grower Mark Hansen said. 
Both men say there's really nothing else that can be done this year they'll just have to make due with what little they have. But that posed the question, what would happen next year if Washington experiences another drought?

“If we have the same weather patterns with our current storage capacity, next years drought would be a lot worse, we were fortunate this year to come into the season with 100% storage capacity,” Hansen said. 

Going into next year though, that storage capacity will be empty and Hansen says if we don't have snowfall, we're in trouble.
Another drought would be devastating to many growers and Hansen says some would have to prepare by looking at crop rotations, choosing which to keep and which to get rid of; some may even have to liquidate cattle.