H2O: The Molecule That Made Us

Annotation 2020-05-21 093856

You have to watch this three-part PBS special on water. In 10 years the world will need 40% more fresh water than will be available. The themes are global, but they apply to Oregon as well. The global fresh water crisis is real, is already impacting the US, and will be strongly felt in Central Oregon sooner than any of us want to acknowledge. Locally, we dramatically mismanage our water and have not updated policies that are over 100 years old. But, what’s the worry? Someone will fix it, right? Can I get another beer?

Thanks to Brett Hodgson for informing me about this show.

2019-2020 Steelhead Season Reintroduction Final Count

“We have met the enemy, and he is us”. – Pogo

Adult steelhead start arriving in the Upper Deschutes during the summer and continue through the following April.  (Steelhead are amazing.)  Today, Portland General Electric released their April adult fish count for the Pelton Trap near the bottom of the re-regulating dam.  A total of 57 adult steelhead returned during the 2019-2020 season.  22 of them were released as fry into the upper basin and 35 were released as smolts.  There’s no denying that 10 years in, this is a disappointment.Read More »

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.Read More »

COVID-19 Stops Chub Removal

For years, ODFW has been working on chub control in a number of local lakes, mostly via netting and removal.  The pandemic has created a budget issue along with a health issue and there will be no netting this year on East or Paulina Lakes.  Control efforts have been successful and the chubs are less abundant than in the past, so this should not have too much impact on this summer’s fishing.

Opal Springs Fish Ladder Update

The fish ladder at Opal Springs has proven remarkably successful.  Since it became operational late November through the end of April, thousands of fish from a variety of species have been filmed and identified as moving through it.  Suckers and whitefish have moved up from Lake Billy Chinook for spawning.  Rainbow, brown, and bull trout have traveled upriver most likely foraging for food.  While the primary motivation for installing the fish ladder was to facilitate the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead, the ladder has also provided much needed connectivity between the Crooked, Metolius, and Middle Deschutes rivers.  An improved ecosystem will be the result.  Below is the breakdown by species.Read More »

Swalley Irrigation District Piping

Swalley Irrigation District and the Deschutes River Conservancy recently announced the completion of piping a 3 mile stretch of canal which will restore about 1.8 cubic feet a second (CFS) of flow to the Middle Deschutes during peak irrigation season.  1.8 CFS is about 13.5 gallons.  Picture 5-gallon buckets, two full and one 2/3rds-full.  Put them on their side and that’s the size of the stream they would create.   Restoring water to the river is always good news, but this announcement is a great example of the complexity of the issue.Read More »

More on Water Shortages and Marketing

I have been writing for years about the water crisis that is looming in Central Oregon.  Global heating, booming growth, and antiquated water policy is already impacting fish and wildlife.  The persistence of shortages for agriculture are now becoming apparent to even the most fervent deniers.  Municipal shortages are clearly on the horizon.  I am heartened that the new ownership of The Bulletin is tackling this issue.  Today they had two good articles on the topic.  “How climate has changed farming the the Northwest” is a reasonable overview of the impacts of smaller snow pack, a topic I frequent.  Missing from the article is a discussion of the impact of over pumping groundwater and lack of recharge which is equally concerning.  They also ran a story about water rights marketing in Washington in the print edition, but failed to put it online (I found it here).  This is exactly the approach that the Basin Study Work Group said would be a cheaper, faster way than piping to return water to the Deschutes River.  If it can work in Washington, why not here in Central Oregon?