Central Oregon water outlook: Conserve or splurge?

May 8, 2015
Central Oregon water outlook: Conserve or splurge?

Is it time to step up conservation on the High Desert?

Katie Higgins

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its May water supply report Friday, and as with most recent surveys, it's not looking good for Oregon.

The report says Oregon's snowpack is 90 percent below normal for this time of year. Low summer streamflows are the reality this year.

According to the report, the statewide snowpack was was just "11 percent of average and only 15 out of 112 snow monitoring stations had any snow left at all."

Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties have 60 to 90 percent less snow than this time last year. The U.S. drought monitoring system says the region is in severe drought.

Looking south, one has to wonder if California's problems will soon be ours.

"We're not at the level of California but this year is definitely much drier and drier snowpack than years past," COCC physics and engineering professor Kevin Grove said Friday.

On May 1, Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of drought emergency for Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Harney, Crook, Baker and Wheeler counties.

City of Bend conservationists says Deschutes County could be close behind.

Repercussions could trickle from the streams to your sink and lawn.

However, the city of Bend says that's several similar seasons away. The city uses ground and surface water sources, and they say there's plenty to go around -- but to still be conscious of how much you use.

The U.S. drought monitoring system shows we haven't seen a drought like this in 10 years.

"Climate change is happening, and climate change is real," Grove said.

According to a Bend WaterWise brochure, toilets more than 20 years old use 3.5 gallons per flush or more, while newer ones use less than half that. Newer shower heads use 2 gallons a minute or less, though the typical American shower lasts over eight minutes.

Older dishwasher models use 10 to 15 gallons per cycle, while newer more efficient ones use only about five gallons. And the average home can leak from 2,000 to 20,000 gallons of water a year, in things like the toilet or water supply to your home.

Surprisingly, a dishwasher uses 15 gallons less than hand washing, and brushing your teeth uses 10 gallons when the tap is running. The average person uses 100 gallons a day.

Click here for more water conservation information from the city of Bend.

See the video at: http://www.ktvz.com/news/central-oregon-water-outlook-conserve-or-splurge/32902658

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