Irrigation season has started and once again the middle Deschutes is suffering. As you can see on the Bureau of Reclamation website, the Deschutes River below North Dam (just upstream from the Mt. Washington bridge) is now reduced to 62 cfs. As I argued in this post, recent levels are least as damaging as what happens in the upper Deschutes below Wickiup Reservoir in the winter. The flows should come back up a little later in the spring as the irrigators allow some additional flows but by that time the damage will have been done. The exposed river bottom will kill fish eggs, the aquatic insects that fish eat, and the plants that the insects need. In spite of all the time, effort, and money put into restoration the Deschutes continues to be no more than an irrigation ditch for the benefit of a few irrigators to the detriment of the rest of us.
UPDATE: a reader pointed out to me that my graph only covers the past 2 weeks. If you go to the BoR site (link above) and run the graph for a longer period you will see that the middle Deschutes was running around 800 cfs for most of the winter. 800 cfs to 62 cfs is a better illustration of just how environmentally damaging the beginning of irrigation season is.