Saturday, June 25, 2016|Home|Features|News|Schools & Sports|Community Bulletins|Opinion  
Obituaries|Activities|Classifieds|Contact Us|Business News|Outdoors|Sheriff's report|Business Directory|   
 Latest Cashmere, Washington, weather

Leavenworth Properties

Blewett pass
Snoqualmie Pass report
Stevens pass
Subscriber Login:
Last Name:
Subscriber Number:

home : news : news

10/10/2012 2:13:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Photo by Kacie Thrift
The Wenatchee River has been flowing at a lower CFS rate than normal. This picture, taken below the Aplets Way Bridge, shows how low the river has become without any precipitation in recent weeks. The Washington Department of Ecology is asking certain water users to not use their irrigation to preserve what little water is flowing in the Wenatchee River this month.
Lack of precipitation has river flowing far below normal
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer

Looking out along the Wenatchee River you can easily see the river bottom and many rocks, indicating the water is at a very low level.

It is common for water to be running at a lower level in September and October than it does in the summer months. However, this fall the levels are in the 25th percentile of the levels from the past 50 years.

The average water flow in Monitor around this time of the year is 921 Cubic Feet per Second (cfs). In spite of the above average water supply forecast this year, on Oct. 5 the United States Geological Service (USGS) website showed Monitor was at 465 cfs which is below the 25th percentile. In a letter from the state of Washington Department of Ecology, the established minimum flow is 700 cfs in order for junior water rights holders to draw water from the river.

The USGS website also showed Plain and Peshastin levels have been lower than normal. The average flow for the last 82 years at Peshastin is 915 cfs and the reading for Oct. 5 showed 506 cfs. The flow for Plain is a bit lower than Monitor and Peshastin flowing at an average 741 cfs for the last 89 years. On Oct. 5, the readings showed it flowing at 373 cfs, just over 100 cfs than the lowest it has ever been this time of year.

Susan Burgdorff-Beery with the state of Washington Department of Ecology said the main reason for the water being lower than normal is due to the climate being so dry and the lack of rain.

Patrick Miller with USGS out of Spokane said cfs levels are similar across the west slopes of the Cascades. He said the Methow and Okanogan rivers are also running low for this time of year.

"The reason is we have had a lack of rain for the last couple of months and it has driven the base flows down quite a bit," Miller said. "In the beginning of September we didn't have any heavy rain. We just had those dry lightening storms and the flows haven't been able to come back without the rain."

The main concern when the water flow starts to get this low is the amount of irrigation users are running water. A letter was sent out to water right holders on the Wenatchee River who are subjected to regulation in favor of the minimum in stream flows.

"This is a natural phenomenon," said Burgdorff-Beery. "There isn't anything we can really do about it besides ask people with water rights that are junior to the rivers water rights to refrain from using their water while it's below minimum."

Miller and Burgdorff-Beery both said the positive thing is the irrigation season is coming to an end so not too many people will have to worry about refraining from using their water. Burgdorff-Beery said most of the people with interruptible water rights are using their irrigation for lawns and small domestic uses around houses from an eighth of an acre to three acres. She said hardly any of the new water rights users have up to five acres.

"Interruptible water rights means the water right permit or certificate is conditioned to be interrupted when the flow in the river goes below a minimum flow. So they know this when they get the water right that their water rights can be interrupted because they are junior to the river water rights," Burgdorff-Beery said.

People with interruptible water rights were notified on Sept. 25 a condition of their water right is that all uses except stock water and single domestic uses be curtailed when the Wenatchee River falls below the minimum flows established under a Washington Administrative Code.

Burgdorff-Beery said the Washington Department of Ecology asked all of the irrigation users with interruptible water rights to curtail all irrigation and other uses that are subject to regulation in favor of the in stream flows. She said water users are monitored during this time to make sure they are using as little water as possibly needed.

Another possible concern for the low water levels is fish migration. Miller said because it is so late in the season and Summer Chinook runs are winding down, he believes the low flows will not be a concern for fish migration.

Some irrigation users have already stopped using irrigation water but there is a select group who uses their irrigation water through October. It is possible river flows may not rise above the minimum flows for the remainder of the irrigation season, according to Burgdorff-Beery.

If you have any questions or concerns you can call Burgdorff-Beery at the Methow Valley Field Office for the Washington Department of Ecology at 509-996-8273.

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or

Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Passcode: This form will not send your comment unless you copy exactly the passcode seen below into the text field. This is an anti-spam device to help reduce the automated email spam coming through this form.

Please copy the passcode exactly
- it is case sensitive.
Cashmere Valley Bank-online

All content copyright 2007-2016 NCW Media Inc.
Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved