KRD Tributary Supplementation Program
During the severe drought of 2015, the KRD secured outside funding to help save endangered fish through tributary supplementation. This was accomplished by transporting Yakima Basin Project water through KRD canals destined for downstream uses in the lower Yakima River. The District spilled Project water throughout the summer into multiple tributaries that were going dry due to extraordinary drought conditions in the Yakima Basin.
Water delivered into the creeks via the KRD canal system in 2015 prevented the mortality of thousands of fish stranded in pools that were drying up in creek beds. Washington State Fish and Wildlife (WDFW documents listed salmonids in multiple life stages that were "rescued" by the cold, clean water delivered to the creeks by the KRD.
Riparian habitats are important to foster and maintain healthy stream functions. Streambanks not supported by the root structures found in functioning riparian areas erode and cause flooding. The supplemental water also prevented riparian vegetation losses as well as streambank losses from potential future flooding events.
During the 2018-19 winter season KRD lined 4300' of the South Branch canal and 2185' of the North Branch resulting in an estimated total savings of 920 acre-feet of conserved water.
In October of 2020, the KRD, Trout Unlimited and other Yakima Basin Integrated Plan partners designed and constructed a temporary wooden pool-weir fishway in Tucker Creek, eliminating a 90-year passage barrier at the Main Canal siphon. With stream flows and sigh passage re-established on Tucker Creek, access to an additional 1.5 miles of quality salmonid habitat has been realized.
The KRD continues to work with the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan partners to implement additional conservation measures, which frees up capacity in the KRD canal system to expand the supplementation program. Integrated Plan projects, like surface and groundwater storage, will make additional water available in drought years for added stream flows in the tributaries through the KRD canal.
Tributaries currently receiving augmented flow include: Tucker, Big, Little, Tillman, Taneum and Manastash creeks. Nelson and Swauk creeks are being evaluated for potential future flow supplementation.
As a result of the KRD relationships with the Yakama Nation and the other Yakima Basin Integrated Plan partners, winter 2021 we have been able to help reintroduce into Tucker Creek and Little Creek the most coho salmon that have been in them for nearly 100 years. A nearby habitat project is scheduled for 2022 that will provide better opportunities for salmon and steelhead as well as other species to return and continue to thrive. This is a great example of how collaboration through the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan can make things better for farms and fish.
Video Clip: Coho salmon being placed into upper Tucker Creek on 11/16/2021.