Today, the Bulletin covered the current erratic flows in the Middle Deschutes caused by the last irrigation diversion in Bend. I too had been told that the issue had something to do with automatic gate malfunctions from debris clogging the gates or perhaps upstream flow fluctuations from the whitewater park or the PacificPower dam that creates Mirror Pond. I wonder.
These dramatic fluctuations in the river are not normal. What’s changed? PacificPower has been operating their dam for decades. The whitewater park is not new. Sure, there’s debris in the river that can clog the gates, but hasn’t that always been the case? Yes, we are in a drought, but the river when it enters Bend is only a little low (see the graph here).
As I write this, the river is at 1,636 CFS. Last year it was lower at 1630. The current level is only 15% below the long term average of 1,920 CFS. So, it seems highly unlikely that low flows are the culprit. Something does not add up.