BEND, OR -- It's been a mild winter so far, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service says we're not getting enough snowpack to meet our water needs later in the year.
Snow Survey Supervisor for Oregon, Scott Oviatt, says we need the winter snow so we have adequate water in the spring and summer. "Statewide, we are at 55% of normal, as of today. And for the Upper Deschutes and Crooked basins, we are at 56% of normal, as of today."
Oviatt says the mountains got good storm activity early in the season, but that it's really slowed down. "The fact that we haven't been receiving the snowfall that we normally get, that's why our averages and normal values have gone down, and percentages."
Oviatt says it's still early enough in the year that no one should worry...there's plenty of winter left. "Right now, we are still early enough that we have adequate time in January, February, March that we could see some significant storm impacts and we may rebound and be in good shape for the upcoming water year. It's still too early to tell. Obviously, we'd like to be near that 100% value, or above, to ensure that we have adequate water supply in the summer, but we're still in the wait-and-see mode, at this point."
He says a healthy snowpack is important to ensuring there's enough water for irrigators and to maintain healthy streamflows in the spring and summer. "Snowpack, especially on the east side of the Cascades, is one of the driving forces for building up and sustaining our spring and summer streamflow volumes of water. And, those in turn, are used for municipal water supplies, irrigation for agriculture, and in-stream water rights for a multitude of uses."
Oviatt says it's early enough in the year yet that a rebound is possible, but area residents should be aware their water may be in shorter supply this summer.