Thursday, April 1st, will mark the start of the 2021 irrigation season for the vast majority of the residential and business customers served by the City of Yakima’s irrigation system. That’s the day the majority of the collection of systems operated by the City’s Water/Irrigation Division are scheduled to begin delivering water.
All City of Yakima irrigation systems should be fully operational by April 7th. The few other irrigation systems that operate independently from the City system will also be gearing up during April and should be fully operational by the beginning of May.
“It’s a good idea for people to spend some time now preparing for the start of the irrigation season,” said Irrigation Supervisor Rich Sanislo. “If they need to make repairs to the pipes that are on their property, now is the right time to do that. Customers should also be sure that all of their faucets are turned off before the water starts flowing on April 1st so they avoid any unnecessary flooding when the systems are turned on.”
The irrigation season in Yakima typically runs from early April to mid-October each year.
Visit https://www.yakimawa.gov/services/water-irrigation/ for more information. For billing questions about the City of Yakima’s drinking water/irrigation services call 575-6080. Other inquiries for the City’s Water/Irrigation Division can be directed to 575-6154.
The City of Yakima has operated irrigation systems since the early 1900s. The system that now exists to deliver water to customers in Yakima actually consists of 66 individual, smaller systems that were consolidated over 20 years ago into a single utility. Through that utility, the City currently provides water to about 11,000 customers.
The earliest known experiment with irrigation in the Yakima Valley is believed to have taken place in 1864 when water was diverted from Ahtanum Creek to help grow a few acres of crops for the Catholic mission nearby. After achieving some success, private canal companies began forming to bring water to more and more land. By the late 1800s, irrigation had proven its worth in unlocking the agricultural bounty of the Yakima Valley.
After a few years of lobbying the federal government, leaders from the Yakima Valley convinced Congress to study, and ultimately begin to build in 1905, a network of canals and other delivery system to turn the region into what its earliest settlers had envisioned – an agricultural powerhouse.
Over the decades that followed, irrigation systems in the Yakima area were expanded and refined. Today, irrigated lands within what came to be known as the Yakima Project total more than 460,000 acres, including lawns and gardens in the city of Yakima.