Archives : 2015 : May
Whychus Creek will flow this summer, revealing both promise and a challenge.
For nearly 20 years, the DRC has partnered with local water interests to collaboratively restore flows in our rivers and streams. This approach has allowed the partial restoration of critical instream flows.
The flow issues existing in the upper Deschutes Rivers, Crooked River and others are more complex. The next phase of the restoration work will be on a much larger scale and will require basin-wide changes in water management.
Over the past two years, the DRC has helped to lead the Basin Study Work Group (BSWG) which is focused upon the long-term water needs of agriculture, municipalities, wildlife, recreation and other interests in the Upper Deschutes Basin.
On April 7th, the BSWG approved a 2 1/2 year plan to implement the Basin Study. The study will begin this summer. It will assess projected water supply and demand for the basin, risks to water supply resulting from climate change, opportunities to increase efficiencies in existing infrastructure, and strategies to meet future water demands.
We are confident there will be enough water for all needs of the basin provided that we’re willing to manage water differently.
Whychus Creek depends entirely on snowmelt for streamflow. With historically low snowpack in the Cascades this winter, water is in very short supply. State water and emergency managers have recommended a drought declaration for Deschutes County, where Whychus Creek is situated; farmers in the area are currently receiving only 30% of their normal allocations.
In previous drought summers, Whychus Creek has run dry. But this year, thanks to the efforts of water managers and recent conservation projects, flows in the creek are expected to remain at about 20 cubic feet per second.
Crook County also declared drought, resulting in reduced deliveries for farmers who rely on the Crooked River. However, the Prineville and Ochoco Reservoirs help buffer the effects of drought.