Drought outlook likely means very low allocations
Central Oregon is experiencing its worst drought in recorded history. Our local farmers and ranchers who depend on irrigation water from Prineville and Ochoco reservoirs are likely to be in for a rough summer. We are seeing trends that could mean significant reductions in allocation and a severely shortened irrigation season.
The current reservoir storage is at its lowest on record. Prineville Reservoir is currently at almost 29,000 acre-feet. Last year, we had almost 59,000 acre-feet at this time. Ochoco Reservoir is at about 4,100-acre feet and last year, it was at 7,500 acre-feet at the beginning of March. That leaves OID with a deficit of 33,400 acre-feet of stored water compared to the previous year.
The next factor to consider is the amount of water stored in the snowpack in the mountains. We currently have much less snow than we had the past two years at this time. The amount of snow water equivalent currently measured at all our locations is over 40% lower than what was measured at this time last year.
Current conditions and outlook suggest we could be in for the lowest water allocation and the shortest season in OID history.
Drought and water year projections will be the primary discussion at the OID board meeting on March 21. We will be posting updates on our website, and if you haven't signed up for the e-newsletter and text notifications, you can do so at ochocoid.org.
We will do our best to inform everyone of this historic drought and the implications for everyone in the Central Oregon community.
Reservoir Report - March 2, 2022
Ochoco Reservoir 4,129 acre-feet (9% full)
Prineville Reservoir 28,661 acre-feet (19% full)
Prineville is at its lowest level ever in March. Ochoco is still below the inlet by almost 1,000 acre-feet. Combined, these two facilities are 30,000 acre-feet less than last year at this time.
Snow Report - March 2, 2022
SNOTEL Inches SWE (Snow Water Equivalent)
Marks Creek 3.6
Ochoco Meadows 5.5
Derr Meadows 7.7
Snow Mountain 6.4
Current snowpack conditions are approximately 55% of where they were at this time last year.
The Oregon Water Resources Department maintains a drought website that provides the status of current water conditions and state drought declarations and information on what you can do to use water wisely. Visit the drought website at: www.oregon.gov/OWRD/programs/climate/droughtwatch
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