Chelan County is pursuing a project to improve irrigation in the Icicle Basin.

The county is planning to partner with Cascade Orchards Irrigation Company (COIC) for a major piece of the project that would upgrade the current open ditch system on Icicle Creek.

“We’ve secured some funding through federal and state sources to convert the system to what’s called a pumpback system,” explains Chelan County Commissioner Bob Bugert. “It’s an enclosed pipe system where water is pumped upstream, which makes it much more reliable and it actually saves a fair amount of water.”

COIC shares a point of diversion with the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery on Icicle Creek.

Bugert adds that upgrading the current system would also have positive environmental impacts as well.

“The water we save can then be supplied to Icicle Creek itself to the benefit of salmon and steelhead. It’s definitely a win-win situation. It definitely benefits the community and our natural resources.”

The improvements are expected to increase irrigation flows by nearly 12 cubic feet per second and over 3,600 acre feet per year to roughly five miles of the lower Icicle Creek.

COIC is currently working on an alternatives analysis to explore various conservation options.

The total projected cost of the project is between $3-5 million.

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