Surely, when the Kennewick Irrigation District was first formed, they loved being called KID. Maybe they still do. But, over the years, I have become less appreciative of the acronym, and I’m not kidding. Please don’t take this the wrong way, because I know and have worked with several employees at KID, and they’ve been great… but every time I’ve been without irrigation water for a week or more, I begin to muster the energy to push for an institutional change.
Thank goodness it has been raining a lot, unlike when this has happened in the past, so I haven’t had to move the hose around much. But I am worried about how long this will go and how many plants and trees will die. And many of my fellow Kennewickians must be thinking the same thing. Check out the screenshot of the map from KID’s website taken this morning (the red shows outages):
Last week, KID told NBC that high-speed internet “contractors” has been punching holes in the lines all over town. I wonder why they didn’t specify that Ziply is the only high-speed internet contractor in town? By my count, there are at least 9 different sectors that have been off line the past week. Kennewick, we have a problem.
The problem has a long history, long before high-speed internet. Back in the 1950’s when the KID was formed, the population of Kennewick was about 10,000 people. Now it is about 90,000. And with the huge growth, KID has changed from serving primarily farmers to serving primarily residential users.
The shift from agricultural to residential service hasn’t been easy. The lines are rarely mapped correctly or buried to the appropriate depth. The various canals have created a patchwork of pump stations, some of which get clogged or go out on a regular basis. And the customer service, well, let’s just say the customer service has been less than it could have been.
Although there are a number of reasons for this, I see the lack of responsiveness as being a foundational problem. An old version of the KID website highlights this fact in their page titled “About the KID” as taken from the 2010 web archive:
Am I the only one that chafes at a statement that KID operates “over and above state law”? I doubt that.
So, what can we do? Let’s start from easiest to hardest. First, we need to call the customer service department and let them know how this is affecting us. The squeaky wheel does, in fact, get the grease. Second, we need to look at getting a resident, non-farmer on the KID board. The last time this was attempted, the contender was sorely defeated by the incumbent because votes are granted by proportional water rights, something farmers have a lot of and individual residential customers have little of. This can be overcome with a good, concerted campaign and potentially an amendment to the RCW to change the votes from total acres to irrigated acres. Third, how about a “cease and desist” against Ziply until irrigation season is over? And last, we need to look at extending the transfer of ownership that occurred last year between the Bureau of Reclamation to the Kennewick Irrigation District.
We have the power to improve our situation, we just need to identify the root of the problem and get to work. Let me know if you have more ideas in the comments section.