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Irrigators Face Curtailment of Water Use

Irrigators in Eastern Washington are facing curtailment of water use, months earlier than normal. Because of the early melting mountain snowpack and rapidly declining river and stream levels in the state, the Department of ecology is beginning to notify junior water-rights holders that they may have to curtail water use soon.

In the Spokane area, about 140 junior water rights holders on the Little Spokane river have received a notification from Ecology and are being told to call a hotline this week to see if they can continue to draw water from the river.

Joye-Redfield Wilder is spokeswoman from Ecology, who says usually such notices come late in the summer.

Joye-Redfield Wilder: "The rivers and streams in Washington that have minimum stream flows which are set by law. Typically these are junior water rights users who are used to having their water interrupted. But we don’t usually see this until September or October, so it is extremely early this year.”

Irrigators on the Methow, Colville, Wenatchee, Similkameen and Okaganen rivers are also receiving word they may have stop irrigating. The Ecology spokesman says the agency will have patrol people checking to make sure no one who has had their water rights curtailed is still using water.

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