Currier Creek / Ellensburg Water Company Ditch Reconstruction Project
Currier Creek / Ellensburg Water Company Ditch
Returning Salmon to Upper Currier Creek
Siphon installation for ditch water.
Yakima Basin, Kittitas County, Ellensburg
An underpass was created to redirect ditch water and restore salmon
passage to Currier Creek.
South Central Washington Resource Conservation and Development Council, Kittitas County Conservation District,
Yakima Tributaries Access and Habitats Program
Blockage to salmon passage, ditch water contaminants in creek.
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
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.
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.