Here’s how our local reservoirs and rivers look as of the end of the day yesterday (click here for a direct link). Crane Prairie still has a lot of water as it is held fairly constant until late summer to maintain endangered species habitat. Haystack is nearly full as it is intermediate storage for North Unit Irrigation District. NUID’s main storage is Wickiup which will most likely be empty before the end of irrigation season. Prineville Reservoir is managed for both irrigation and fish. As of August 5th, it has 41,820 acre feet of irrigation water and 23,380 acre feet of “fish water”.
Reservoirs are well under normal, but the Deschutes River is relatively OK so far. This could change as the reservoirs are depleted. The “BENO” gauge above Bend shows the amount of water in the river before it is diverted by the irrigators. Even with the drought, it is only 15% lower than average, showing that while some irrigators are facing shortages, as a group they are still taking most of what they usually do. The river drops by 93% at the “DEBO” gauge after the last irrigation diversion.
Flows out of Prineville Reservoir are very close to average for this time of year. As mentioned above, a little over half of the remaining water in the reservoir is “fish water”. Per the Bureau of Reclamation, this is enough to provide 50 CFS of flow into the Crooked River over the winter, which is under the 80 CFS minimum target but better than some low flows in past winters.
And, for perspective, here’s the latest drought monitor map for Oregon. It is not pretty. At the end of irrigation season there will be very little water left in reserve. If we don’t have a very cold, wet winter with a massive snow pack, our aquifer is going to get even lower and next summer could be quite ugly.