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 »

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?

 

 

“$1 billion is too much to give irrigation districts in these times”

Today the Bulletin ran a guest column, “$1 billion is too much to give irrigation districts in these times“, by Tod Heisler of Central Oregon Land Watch.  Clearly, I agree with Tod that the current plan is the wrong one.  My first letter to The Bulletin criticizing water and canal management by local irrigation districts was over 10 years ago.  Hopefully we can get past identifying the problem and finding real solutions to our local water issues before lack of adequate funding, a growing population, and a heating planet create a full-blown crisis.  Of course, it already is a crisis for local fish and wildlife.

 

More on Cold Water Refugia for Columbia Steelhead

David Moskowitz, Executive Director of The Conservation Anger, emailed me with a few comments on my post about the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s plans for creating cold water refugia for steelhead in the Columbia River.  I have been thinking about this more as well, so here are some things to consider.  I really hope you take the time to look at ODFW’s web page on this topic and submit your comments via email.Read More »