$3 Billion plan gaining legs to improve Yakima Basin irrigation water

$3 Billion plan gaining legs to improve Yakima Basin irrigation water »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's no secret that agriculture plays a vital role in the area's economy. It's also no secret that agriculture relies heavily on water.

Don Weippert has grown fruit in Yakima for decades. He says the Yakima Basin's inadequate supply of irrigation water has ruined many harvests.

"In the last 20 years that's happened a hand-full of times,” Don said.

Don and county officials say irrigation water runs low in our area because the current reservoirs are not efficient. It means farmer's crops suffer. When farmers lose money, our economy takes a hit.

"There's been a huge economic loss and so it would be real advantageous to improve the water storage in whatever way we can,” Don said.

Improving the water storage is just what the county is trying to. A new $3 billion plan has already been submitted to the state and feds.

The plan is to get more water out of reservoirs in place-- and add two new ones. It could produce 450,000 more cubic feet of water.

Roughly $20 million is expected to come from the state. The Governor is expected to give it the "OK" in the coming weeks.

From there, the committee will head to the federal level for more aid.
It's a massive plan, years in the making-- now it's quickly gaining legs and support.

"It's just a question of how it's done and right now we're in the process of trying to figure out how to do that,” Don said.

The Yakima Basin Improvement Plan was submitted to the House this week. County officials say they want to get the improvements going by year's end.

It's still not clear where the rest of the aid will come from.