BEND, OR -- Temperatures are falling, but the rain isn't. Bend has not seen measurable precipitation in about three months, and that lack of water is leading to low levels at local reservoirs.
Kyle Gorman, with Oregon's Water Resources department, says after the dry summer and five years of below-average precipitation, Wickiup Reservoir is just 3% full. "It is very low and it’s storage that we haven’t seen in a very long time. It’s one that will go down in our records as one of the lowest years since at least 1970." Wickiup provides water for the North Unit Irrigation District, "The flow is actually meeting the demand right now, and we anticipate being able to meet those irrigation demands for the remainder of the summer," says Gorman. Irrigation season officially ends in Central Oregon on October 31.
In comparison, Crescent Lake is at 71%, "The demand on Wickiup was high, this year; the overall demand on Crescent was lower. The Tumalo Irrigation District has its supply from Crescent, and with their piping and conservation measures they’ve taken over the years, it’s allowed them to withdraw less than they have, historically."
For Wickiup Reservoir, Gorman says the best they can do is hope for a wet and snowy winter, although he admits it will be difficult to make up for five years of below average precipitation, "We don’t anticipate Wickiup being able to fill, despite the type of winter we have. That means the North Unit Irrigation District will have to plan and prepare for a much lower than average water supply for that district, next year."
As of Tuesday morning, Wickiup Reservoir measured at 5,355 acre-feet. According to Gorman, average for this date is about 65,000 acre-feet. Capacity is 200,000 acre-feet.
Photo: courtesy Scott Nelson HD Productions, Wickiup Reservoir on September 18, 2018