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Including photos

The KRD scanned all of the historical photos owned by the district in 2019-2020. Some of our favorites are shown here. For information on canal construction, please follow the link below.

KRD History

Expansion of irrigation in the Kittitas Valley originated with diversion of natural flows from creeks within the valley. The Manastash Canal was the first organized development beginning in 1872. This diversion was from Manastash Creek, and served approximately 1,700 acres. Subsequent construction included: Taneum Ditch, taking water out of Taneum Creek in 1873 - 1874 serving roughly 3,700 acres; the Ellensburg Town Canal with diversion from the Yakima River in 1885 - 1889 serving about 7,000 acres; the Olson Ditch, originally used as a power canal for a sawmill in 1870, then rebuilt in 1890 to serve approximately 1,200 acres; the Bull Ditch started in 1886 to serve 1,300 acres; and the Cascade Canal constructed in 1903 - 1904 to serve 12,000 acres.

Early records contain a proposal in 1885 for the "High Line" canal that would divert water from the Teanaway River. In 1889, the County Commissioners appropriated $1,500 for a survey of the proposed canal near Easton. Subsequent efforts to construct a "High Line" canal began in 1891 with the organization of the Middle Kittitas Irrigation District. This strategy was to irrigate 23,000 acres from a canal roughly 240 feet lower in elevation than the present day KRD canal. Construction started but ended quickly, with very little accomplished, due to financial difficulties.

On September 25, 1911, the KRD was organized. An issuance of bonds in the amount of $5,000,000 was planned to finance the construction of an irrigation system but these funds were not appropriated. Other financial plans also failed. As early as 1905 the USBR began investigating the feasibility of including the Kittitas Division in the Yakima Project. Later, local requests and support prompted the USBR to complete an engineering report on January 15, 1925, which included the present plan of development. Additionally, a Soil and Economic Conditions Report of the Proposed Kittitas Unit, dated September 13, 1924, was prepared by the USBR, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington State College, and University of California staff. This report was favorable, so federal funds were appropriated for construction of the KRD. Construction began in 1925.

The original federal water supply contract with the KRD was dated February 16, 1921, and the first construction contract was dated December 19, 1925. The KRD construction was completed in 1933. Major structures in the KRD system are the Easton Diversion Dam, the Main Canal, the North Branch Canal, and the South Branch Canal. The Easton Diversion Dam is 248 feet long and 65 feet high. The dam was completed in 1929. Construction of the Main Canal and South Branch Canal, which are 26 and 14.2 miles long respectively, were completed in 1929. The North Branch Canal is 36 miles in length and was completed in 1933.

The original land classification report for the KRD contained several flaws that resulted in some land being classified as irrigable when it actually had areas of shallow soil, steep slopes, and rocks. The reclassification of soils during the years of 1940 to 1943 resulted in an adjusted irrigable area of 56,432 acres. As an outcome of the 1948 Economic Report and Repayment Plan, an Amendatory Contract dated January 20, 1949 was completed between the United States and the KRD. That contract adjusted the KRD’s repayment burden, annual repayment formula, and restated the schedule and amount of water to be furnished.

A write up of the formation and construction of the KRD is also available on History Link.

KRD Timeline

  • 1865. An act of Territorial Legislation created Kittitas County which was then comprised of Yakama, Benton and Klickitat counties.

  • 1885. The earliest records for ''High Line'' construction indicate a proposal to take water out of the Teanaway River.

  • 1886. On February 4 the Washington Territory Act discussed regulation of irrigation and water rights in Yakama and Kittitas Counties.

  • 1889. Washington became an official State.

  • 1889. County Commissioners appropriated funds for a survey beginning near Easton.

  • 1891. Middle Kittitas Irrigation District was organized to irrigate 23,000 acres from a canal 240 feet lower in elevation than the present system.

  • 1904. On March 4 power of eminent domain for irrigation districts was granted.

  • 1905. Bureau of Reclamation, Yakama Office made some investigation to include the Kittitas Division in the Yakama Project development.

  • 1909-1933. Six reservoirs were built in the Yakima River Basin.

  • 1911. On September 25 the Kittitas Reclamation District was organized, posted and filed notice of water appropriation for 1,200 c.f.s. for irrigation of District lands, with diversions from the Yakama River, in the SENW of Section 11, Township 20 N., Range 13 E., W.M. Boundaries of the District were defined by County Commissioners. The planed bond sale did not materialize.

  • 1912. Survey were made by Christian Anderson for the ''High Line''. The ''High Line'' proposal contemplated a diversion near Easton and the irrigation of the Kittitas, Moxee Roza and Kennewick Divisions as well as some 140,000 acres between the north slope of the Rattlesnake Hills and the Columbia River.

  • 1921. Warren Act water supply central #IIr-427 for 260,000 acre-feet uh the District is dated February 16.

  • 1924. Soil and Economic Conditions Report of Proposed Kittitas Unit dated September 13 was prepared by Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of Agriculture.

  • 1925. Bureau of Reclamation, Yakama Office completed an engineering report on January 25, that incorporated the present plan of development.

  • 1925. Contract #IIr-198 for first construction begins on December 19.

  • 1926. Application No. 3202 filed on May 29th.

  • 1930. First irrigation water deliver to 12,195 acres.

  • 1930. November 1 central provides for increase of water supply to 372,000 acre-feet.

  • 1931. Permit No. 1719 approved on June 15 for 1,320 c.f.s. diversion for irrigation only.

  • 1931. Amended Permit No. 1719 approved on August 14 for 1,320 c.f.s. diversion for irrigation, domestic, and power for irrigation. Water required April through September; and October 21 through October 31 .

  • 1933. Completion of construction of District.

  • 1934. January 1 the operation and management was assumed by the District.

  • 1940. June 4 contract revised monthly percentages of scheduled water deliveries. O & M operation at Easton Dam resumed by the United States.

  • 1945. January 10 contract provides for release of 30,000 acre-feet of water, with District supply reduced to 342,000 acre-feet; monthly water schedule revised.

  • 1945. Consent Decree. Declaratory judgement defines the Government's obligation to deliver water from the project water supply to it contract users, and includes a proration formula in years of water storage. All of the Kittitas Reclamation District contract water right diversion at Easton Dam is subject to proration.

  • 1949. January 20 Amendatory Contract #IIr-1532 consolidates repayment of storage and irrigation system construction and supersedes the previous Government-District contracts.

  • 1960. April 5 Contract # 14-06-100-1892 transfers Easton Diversion Dam and headwork back to District for O & M.

  • 1971. December 21 contract 14-6-100-7216 Exchange, Amendatory and Repayment by United States, KRD and City of Ellensburg. Reducing District's contract supply to 336,000 acre-feet.

  • 1973. December 7 Amendatory Contract 14-06-100-7980 revises January 20, 1949 Contract covering repayment schedules.

  • 1994. Adjudication of KRD recognized 59122 irrigable acres within the District and established current boundaries.

KRD Historical Photos

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