Oregon Reservoir emptied for unprecedented 3rd consecutive year

A water reservoir considered a key indicator of the amount of water available to farmers in central Oregon is nearly empty again at the end of the irrigation season.

The bulletin reports The Wickiup Reservoir was only 3% full on Tuesday, according to the Bureau of Reclamation’s website.

Some of the water is being held back to avoid a turbidity problem that occurred two years ago when the Deschutes River took on an unusual green hue in Bend.

The Wickiup Reservoir holds irrigation water in the winter for farmers in the North Unit Irrigation District to use in the spring and summer. But drought has drained the reservoir to the bottom in the past three years and in four of the past five years.

Bridget Moran, Bend field office supervisor for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said her agency is working with habitat conservation plan licensees and federal partners to “adaptively manage” the reserves. limited water.

Deschutes Basin water master Jeremy Giffin said the amount of water available in 2023 for irrigation will likely be similar to what the reservoir held last April.

“However, hopefully we’ll get above-average snowpack this winter, which might help raise those levels a bit,” Giffin said.

At the end of March, four reservoirs in the region were at record levels for the start of the irrigation season. Wickiup was 55% full, a level that forced the North Unit Irrigation District to reduce water allocation to its lowest allocation that farmers had in that area.

In the upper Deschutes Basin, the snowpack was only 54% of normal at the end of March, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. A late season snowfall helped to make up some ground.

Central Oregon’s drought has been described as the worst on record, dating back 127 years.

Larry O’Neill, an associate professor in the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, said seasonal forecast models suggest above-average rainfall in central Australia. Oregon from December to February and near normal temperatures.

“The projection of above normal precipitation this winter from seasonal forecast models is of low to medium confidence,” O’Neill said.

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