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Quad City Herald
Brewster, Washington
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March 22, 2001     Quad City Herald
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March 22, 2001
 

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Weather ] H H L P U [il March 14 59 34 0 [.:] [I 15 43 33 .15 " rl 16 52 33 0 II H March 1754 40 0 [| lil March 18 47 36 .19 [:.! [il March 19 58 38 0 H Serving the towns of Brewster, Bridgeport, Mansfield, Pateros and lower Me(how Valley Volume 99 No. 39 Breusler, Washington USPS 241-920 51) March 22, 21111 Snowpack lowest in forty years; river flow 50% of normal By Cheryl Schweizer, staff writer Old Man River, like the folk song says, just keeps flowing along. But some years he's up, at least in terms of water flow, and some years he's down. This year the old man is down. Really down. And that will have consequences for every water user --humans, animals and plants alike.-- along the river. Water flows along the Columbia River are expected to be among the lowest on record, the result of a region-wide drought. The snowpack that feeds the river is the smallest since 1977, the second lowest in 40 years--and it may not produce any runoff at all. The statewide situation has prompted Governor Gary Locke to declare a drought emergency. One of the consequences of that is a warning from the Department of Ecology (DOE) to water users along the Columbia River with water rights issued after 1980 that their irrigation could be suspended at some lime during the summer. Those water riots (called interruptible water rights) along the tributaries have been suspended before, but this would be the first time ever irrigation was suspended along the main river. A number of orchard owners (including Gebbers Farms), large and small, could be affected; the city of Brewster and the BrklgelJort School District "As far as fish is concerned, it's going to be a very bad spring. And an even worse summer," - Brian Gorman, public affairs officer, NMFS are among the public agen- that could have their irrigation fights suspended. Irrigators will be required to contact the DOE each week during irrigation sea- son to fmd out ff they will be allowed to irrigate that week. Drinking water is ex- empted from the regula- . tions, said Joye Redfield-Wilder, public information manager for the DOE office in Yakima. Property owners can pumpenough for domestic use and to irrigate one acre, she said. Ecology department officials knowing that interrupting the irrigation could cause hardship, is work- ing on establishing a meeting place to match available water rights with people who need them, she said. The unprecedented situation reflects unprecedented circumstances. "It's a very unusual year," said Refield-Wilder. The interraptible water rights are based on water flows at various dams along the river; if those flows drop below a designated amount, irrigation would be suspended. Water flowing through The Dalles Dam is expected to tie about half of normal for the April to September irrigation season; the average is about 100 million acre-feet, but this year it is expected to be about 56 million acre-feet. And the regulations stipulate that pumps might be shut off when the river flow at The Dalles drops below 60 million acre- feet, she said. Stream/low regulations have been in place since the 1970s; "there has to be a certain amount of water in the rivet'," Redfield-Wilder said, Cont' d on page 8 Drawing water for irrigation could be interrupted for to emergency drought conditions. Wm. E. Vallance photo several orchardists, citlea and school districts due With summer on the way, Brewster city officials are asking residents to curtail their water use. The city of Brewster was among the mu- nicipalities, school districts, orchard owners and business owners who were notified re- cently that permission to pump water from the Columbia River might be suspended this summer, due to low water conditions. It would not affect the city's drinking water, but it could mean no irrigation water for the parks. But the city has another, longer-term prob- lena unconnected with the possible dronght-- water use is approaching the limits allowed under the city's permits. City officials have been trying (for about nine years, actually) to obtain additional water, but have been out of luck so far. Conservation measures provided some additional water under the current permits, but all of that water is almost gone, too, said public works direc- tor Mike Shenyer. Shenyer said there are some things resi- dents can do to reduce their water use, espe- cially watering the lawn. Automatic sprin- kler systems, for instance, can make a signifi- cant difference; Shenyer said the city reduced water use at the cemetery by about two-thirds after installing automatic sprinklers. City of. ficials will provide information about more efficient watering systems before the water- ing season starts, he said. In other business at the regular Brewster City Council meeting Wednesday, March 14, the council granted permission for the Okanogan County PUD to place one diesel- powered generator at the Brewster substation for 90 days. Less water flowing down the Columbia River--and through the region's elaborate hydropower system--will mean the region- ally generated electricity will not meet the need. That means utilities might be forced to buy electricity on the wholesale market, and that is producing high anxiety, due to the high prices. The other alternative is to find another source of electricity, and last week the PUD commissioners purchased some diesel gen- erators and leased others as that alternate source. The leased generators can be oper- ated for 90 days; the other generators will have one-year permits. The Brewster Public Library will have a new room sometime this spring. Council members Bob Fateley and Bob Dewey re- ported that the librarian Judy Johnston ap- Cont' d on page 8 Washington apples can be found on the streets of Riyadh, the bazaars in Bangkok, the markets of Vladivostok. New Yorkers eat Washington apples, so do residents of Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles. Washing- ton apples are sold in the tropics, the Arctic, the desert, just about every- where in the world. But there aren't many sold in Ja- pan. Japan is a tough market; "There are only two warehouses qualified under the protocol to ship (apples) to Ja- pan," said Dave Martin, a member of the sales staff at Brewster Heights Packing. (The protocol sets the rules and regulations under which fruit is admitted to Japan.) Brewster Heights happens to be one of the two. The company is not selling a lot of fruit in Japan---not right now, at least. "This amount of fruit we ship to Wal-Mart in one week," Marlin said. But BHP's own- ers are hoping that the small ship- merits will grow bigger over time. The goal is 100,000 to 200,000 boxes eventually, Martin said, and maybe more. The Japanese take the long- term view, he said, and "we have had to take the same approach." This year sales have been fimited to Fujis. Brewater Heights had some Red Delicious that qualified for im- Japan port, but "the market over there has products." There has been a steady an appetite, basically, for Fujis." drop in apple prices paid by the con- W a s h i n g t o n sumer in the last six apples have been years, he said. comparable in Someofthatcanbe quality to Fujis (There is) "very traced to the reces- sion, but Japanese grown in Japan, rigorous inspection marketers also he said, "espe- cially in theproceduresto know they face Brewster area." competition, he Brewsterhaslots make sure they're s d. of sun and con- "EdPariseau has sistent tempera- free of unwanted been working on tures in the grow-,this for 20 years." ing .season, which diseases and pests, Japan agreed to al- produce a high sugar, high-color = Dave Martin, low imports of American apples apple. "Japanese BHP salesman a few years ago, growers would but their standards kill to have our are very strict-- growing conditions," Martin said. including inspections of individual Japanese growers produce enough orchards and processing facili- apples for the Japanese market until ties that want to sell fruit there. the spring; traditionally, the domes- There is "very rigorous inspec- tic supply runs out about mid- or late tion procedures to make sure they're April, Martin said. In May and June, free of unwanted diseases and "you can expectto pay a minimum of pests," Martin said; primarily they $1.50 to $2 an apple, with a maxi- are looking for fire blight. But mum of $6 to $7 an apple." Martin rules may change. "We are in said BHP's owners think there is a constant negotiation to try and market there, especially with the simplify the protocol." In the fu- country struggling with a stagnant ture, "it may not be as tough as it economy. "Tough times over there," is today." The market, in fact, is Martin said In the poor economic growing, Martin said. "We did climate, "there is a definite shift in their economy for value-oriented Cont'd on page 4 turn green for St s show All dogs, like all people, are Irish on March 17, and a half dozen dogs proved it by participating in the first St. Patrick's Day dog show, sponsored by the Brewster Chamber of Commerce. The dogs wore green and lots of shamrocks. A schnauzer named Bridget wore a bright green.and white sweater. Heidi, all white, wore a bright green hat and shirt. Big black Forbes wore a green kerchief around his neck. Forbes, escorted by his owner Quentin Neumann and Quentin's morn Lesa, won the biggest dog award. Whiskey and his owner Zulma Santos were chosen as the best dog/ owner lookalike. Heidi and Sundance, owned by Anthony and Janet Ruiz, won the first and second place awards for most creative cos- tume. Bridget, the schnauzer with the Irish name and the Irish sweater, won the Best Irish award. This is the first year for the dog show, which followed the St. Patrick's Day parade. It attracted Quentin's little plastic jeep and a big green Cadillac owned by Jack and Colleen Groeneveld, Brewster. There were lots of kids dressed in green and a bright pink dune buggy with green balloons. All participants were served cookies and green punch, donated by 7 Street Market, at the conclusion.