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Currier Creek / Ellensburg Water Company Ditch Reconstruction Project

Highlights in Conservation icon

Currier Creek / Ellensburg Water Company            Ditch Reconstruction Project

Returning Salmon to Upper Currier Creek

Image of siphon installation for ditch water.

Siphon installation for ditch water.

Location icon
Yakima Basin, Kittitas County, Ellensburg

Project Summary icon
An underpass was created to redirect ditch water and restore salmon passage to Currier Creek.

Conservation Partners icon
South Central Washington Resource Conservation and Development Council, Kittitas County Conservation District, Yakima Tributaries Access and Habitats Program committee.

Resource Challenges icon
Blockage to salmon passage, ditch water contaminants in creek.

Conservation Program Used icon
The Resource Conservation & Development Program (RC&D) was used to create a Yakima Tributaries Access and Habitats Program (YTAHP) committee to distribute BPA funds to high priority projects in the Yakima Basin through a collaborative process. For this project, Currier Creek in the Kittitas Valley was one of several creeks intersected by an irrigation ditch created by the Ellensburg Water Company in the 1860s. Built to deliver vital water to landowners, this ditch divided Currier Creek, redirecting stream water into the ditch with the use of boards (figure 1). These boards blocked any salmon from migrating further upstream. The water that spilled over these boards was contaminated by the intermingling of creek and ditch water. This resulted in release of pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals downstream. Funding was obtained to allow the Kittitas County Conservation District to reconstruct this intersection by piping ditch water underneath the stream channel (figure 2). To maintain water rights within the ditch, a fish screen and water meter for 15 cfs gravity diversion was built. A fish ladder was also constructed to allow fish passage during low flows (figure 3). In addition, riparian vegetation was planted to provide additional shade and habitat. The construction has been completed (figure 4) and now monitoring has begun to make sure the siphon is working correctly.

Innovations and Highlights icon
This project was made possible by a collaboration process set up through the RC&D and the YTAHP committee, where conservation districts, state, and federal staff are involved in picking priority projects, as well as design and implementation of projects. This has created a highly collaborative process resulting in several successful projects each year. This committee is also able to better leverage BPA funding to bring in additional outside funding to complete projects.

Results and Accomplishments icon
Salmon now have access to Currier Creek above the ditch. Pesticides and other chemicals in the ditch water no longer end up in lower Currier Creek. There was no loss in water to land owners. This was a win-win project.

Contact icon
Heather Simmons-Rigdon, NRCS, Yakima,  (509) 454-5743  Ext. 104

NRCS, Spring 2009