Kennewick Irrigation District: Tumbleweed-filled canals will be cleaned out

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Concerned customers have been contacting the Kennewick Irrigation District about tumbleweed-clogged canals, but KID has a plan in place.

New Year’s Eve brought massive amounts of tumbleweeds into parts of Tri-Cities, shutting down a highway and causing major traffic delays. Crews have worked to clear out the largely affected areas, but many are still lingering or being blown in due to seasonal winds.

Some of them are starting to pile-up in the irrigation canals. While it may seem that KID is not doing anything about them, that’s not the case – it’s all about timing.

“As we get closer to the end of March, we’ll know better what it is that we have to deal with,” said Jason McShane, engineering and operations manager for KID. “We anticipate having to go through every year and spending a couple weeks for a few of our staff members to come through and clean these canals up.”

McShane said if they clean out the canals now, they may just have to do it over again in the spring before the water is turned back on. When they do start the process, the district has a couple of methods. For the more extreme areas, they’ll use a truck-mounted crane. For other sections, they can raise the water level in the canal, causing the tumbleweeds to be carried down to a central trash rack to be disposed of.

Meanwhile, they ask that people who end up with tumbleweeds in their yard don’t send them into the canal, making the situation worse.

“We have had people send those down into the canal thinking that they’re just going to move on, but it means that somebody in our community now has to go through and take those out,” said McShane.

KID plans to turn the water back on in the canals around the first week of April.