Not a Pretty Picture

5.18.20 SNOTEL

Here’s the latest snow pack info for Oregon.  Pretty grim.  Last weekend I did a driving tour of the Cascade Lakes and saw just how low the lakes are for spring. Here’s a photo of the Deschutes arm of Wickiup from two days ago.  It’s not just a river yet, but it will be by the end of the summer.


Here’s the Bureau of Reclamation map for local reservoirs.  Clearly, they are not going to fill this year.  (Note that Haystack is filled by North Unit Irrigation District with water from Wickiup.)  They don’t show Davis Lake, but it is so low that you can’t launch a boat.

BOR Map 5.17.20

It goes without saying that this is not good news for anglers.  Less obvious is the impact on anadromous fish reintroduction.  Since those efforts began there has been a clear correlation between good snow pack and out migrating salmon and steelhead smolts.  There have been two really good snow pack years since the effort began and both times a high number of smolts were captured at the Selective Water Withdrawal tower in Lake Billy Chinook.  The out migration season is not over, but the results so far are disappointing.  I’ll post on that when smolts are out of the system after the end of the month.

Just for kicks, here is the latest drought monitor for Oregon.  Much of the state has been in some level of drought for over 20 years.  Most of Deschutes County is currently in “severe drought”.  Farming counties to the north are in worse shape.  Even the big snow pack years have not provided enough water to make up for the deficits from all the poor water years.  Groundwater is not being replenished, lakes are not filling and having more algae blooms, and rivers are shrinking and warming.  Like I said, not a pretty picture, but we continue to move at glacial speed in terms of upgrading local water policy.