Good Fruit Grower

April 1

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32 APRIL 1, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Irrigation T he historic 1976-1977 drought that hit western states made a lasting mark on a Washington State teenager and began what became a lifelong quest. For more than 30 years, Urban Eberhart has worked to improve water supplies for the Yakima River Basin. With the start of construction of a project on Manastash Creek, he's fi nally seeing the fruition of the fi rst of what's hoped to be many water projects that are part of an integrated plan for the Yakima River Basin. The Manastash Creek is a tributary of the Yakima River in central Washington's Kittitas Valley that provides water to about 4,500 acres of farmland. It once served as important habitat for steelhead and coho salmon. Last year, with cost sharing between creek users, the Washington State Depart- ment of Ecology, Kittitas Reclamation District, and the county conservation district, the project broke ground. Three miles of an unlined lateral are being converted to a pressured pipeline, conserv- ing an estimated 1,300 acre-feet of water annually and increasing access to 25 miles of habitat for steelhead, trout, and salmon. Eberhart, in his early 50s, lives, breathes, and dreams water. If you were a stranger and just met the Ellensburg, Washington, tree fruit and hay grower, you'd leave knowing about the need for additional water storage in the Yakima River Basin and how an integrated plan will increase water supplies for fi sh and wildlife, farmers, and municipalities. He's a cheerleader for the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resources Management Plan (called the Integrated Plan) and shares his message with anyone willing to listen. One of Eberhart's neighbors once told him, "I'd like to stop and say hello, but I don't have 20 minutes to talk water." Grower devotes his lifetime to water issues. by Melissa Hansen Tree fruit grower Urban Eberhart stands along the Manastash Creek project that will conserve about 1,300 acre-feet of water annually and provide improved habitat for fi sh by converting three miles of an unlined lateral to a pressured pipeline. The project is the fi rst to break ground as part of the 30-year Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan. PLAY scan to learn about the water project

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