water supply

WASHINGTON - Across Washington, a lot of people are fed up with the snow... but many water supply experts and farmers are saying otherwise.

Flashback to about a month ago when snowfall was dumping on the Eastern part of the U.S, but lacking in the Pacific Northwest. This seemed to give water supply experts mild heartburn.  

"I was very dependent on what would be coming in the future," said Chris Lynch, River Operations Engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation

Lynch says though the months leading up to February were slightly frightening, he's learned that we can recover. Little did Lynch know that recovery would come as the 2019 "Snowpocalypse."

"We would call this the great February rebound," said Chris.

The 2019 Snowpocalypse - boosting our water supply from snowpack; Washington state's 6th reservoir, but the largest.

"For the upper Yakima that was about 10 percent.... and the lower about 15 or 14 percent," said Lynch.

The Tri-Cities gets their water supply from Upper Yakima and Lower Yakima. Right now, snow levels are at 81 percent for Upper Yakima and 99 percent for Lower Yakima. A month ago, however, that wasn't the case. Levels looked more like 71 percent for Upper Yakima and 85 percent for Lower Yakima.

"Last year, on this day last year, the lower was at one-hundred percent so it was very similar, and the upper was at 98. Overall we were closer to normal last year," said Lynch.

Why were our 'of normal' levels higher when it seems like we got more snow this year then?

"I think what is playing tricks with people is that we are getting heavy snow in the lowlands. We're getting a lot of snow in one month. We actually had a lot more water sitting in the snow pack last year," said Lynch.

Given Mother Nature's recovery however, Lynch says we should be okay this irrigation season.

"We don't have to be at 100 percent to have a normal water supply. The more we climb closer to it, the better we feel," said Chris.

Much of determining whether we are set this irrigation season also depends on outside factors. Though our snow pack levels are almost at normal, if this season is hotter than normal and that snow decided to melt way too fast... then that could pose an issue.

Chris Lynch says given our current snow pack, he does not imagine a bad scenario.

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