Deschutes Basin 101

Where Does the Water Go?

Nearly 90% of the streamflow from the Deschutes River in Bend is diverted through irrigation canals during the irrigation season (April - October).

During the summer months, these irrigation diversions cause a dramatic reduction in streamflow in the river below Bend.

The porous, volcanic soil characteristic of this region causes as much as 50% of the water that is diverted from the river into irrigation canals to seep into the ground before it ever reaches the farms.

As a result, irrigation districts need to divert twice the amount of water they need to serve their patrons. Then, during the winter months, water is stored at Wickiup Reservoir to serve irrigation needs during the summer; this significantly reduces streamflow in the winter and drastically increases streamflow in the summer in the Upper Deschutes below Wickiup Dam.

These seasonal flow disruptions to the naturally stable-flowing Deschutes River have contributed to a decline in the overall health of the river, including degraded fish habitat and poor water quality.

No items found.