The Yakima Basin Integrated Plan (YBIP) is an impressive feat of coordination and cooperation. Its basic aim is simple—to guarantee enough water for people, fish, and agriculture—but behind that simple summary there are many parties, many interests, and a lot of history. With the leadership of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Washington Department of Ecology and the support and input of the Washington State Legislature, the counties of central Washington, the irrigation districts and irrigated farmers of the Yakima basin, Native American tribes and environmental and citizen groups, the YBIP has moved forward and now promises to ensure the future of the Yakima basin for generations to come.
In our cover interview, Wendy Christensen, Reclamation’s Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project coordinator, explains the history of Reclamation’s work on the YBIP and highlights the importance of the stakeholders’ workgroup that, for the last 10 years, has provided input and feedback on the YBIP plans.
We also speak with Senator Judy Warnick and Representative Bruce Chandler of the Washington State Legislature, whose long experience in central Washington water issues has helped bring the YBIP where it is today. Cory Wright, the commissioner of Kittitas County, and Dean Dennis, the president of Kennewick Irrigation District’s board of directors, provide local-level viewpoints on their support for the development and implementation of the YBIP. In addition, Raman Venkata, one of KID’s board members, shares with us the inspiring story of his five decades in the United States and his impressive contributions to our country as an engineer and elected official.
In our Innovators section, we highlight Whooshh Innovations’s fish passage technology, which can send fish through a tube over a dam in seconds using pneumatic pressure—a solution so ingenious that videos of it went viral on the Internet earlier this year. Craig Gyselinck of Quincy- Columbia Basin Irrigation District has embarked on a project to develop weed-resistant concrete. Finally, we speak with Shane Scott, whose company sells the Flexi Baffle, an easily-installed product that turns any culvert into a fish ladder. We also interview Allison Britain, the inaugural recipient of the Women in Water scholarship, about her passion for water law.
There are many interests and parties in the Yakima basin, and like all neighbors, they sometimes have conflicts. Yet through patient cooperation and a willingness to collaborate, they have created something admirable and impressive. It is an accomplishment we can all look up to.
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.