"The Yakima River Flip Flop"



 The annual Yakima River Flip Flop is a term used by the local irrigation district, farmers, ranchers and orchard growers living in the Kittitas Valley.  The flip flop or exchange of water begins every year around the first part of September.

 On September 1st, changes will begin in the main stem of the Yakima River. Water flows that have been high throughout the summer months are now being slowly reduced.  Reductions in dam flows from the four (4) storage reservoirs (Keechelus, Kachess, Easton and Cle Elum) in the Cascade Mountain Range will begin to diminish. These reservoirs provide water to the upper Yakima along with a hand full of small tributaries.

Increases in water from the Rimrock Rock and Bumping Reservoirs located southeast of the Manatash and Umtanum Ridge will begin.  These two (2) reservoirs draw water into the Tieton and Bumping Rivers which eventually feed into the Nachess River.  The Nachess River converges with the Yakima River at the town of Yakima.
Water requirements over the next two months are made available to irrigators via these two water storage facilities.  This water will provide irrigation needs to farmers living in the lower Yakima River Valley.  Local Kittitas Valley farmers will continue to receive water from the Yakima and K.R.D. (Kittitas Reclamation District) to fulfill their needs until early October.  The exchange of water from one source to the other has earned this annual event the "flip flop".
  In years past, river levels have dropped from the summer flow range (4000cfs) to unbelievably low levels almost overnight.  When this was done, fish and insect life were inevitably stranded.  Over the last couple of years, pressure from fisheries, government agencies and the Yakama Indian Nation have changed procedures.  The river flow now drops on a gradually basis, giving fish and most insects adequate time to adjust.  This provides fish, insects and other animals of the Yakima a healthier, vital system.