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Inaccurate reading, 29,434 acre feet, prompts phone calls from startled farmers

PHOTO COURTESY SETH MCLAUGHLIN - The Wickiup Reservoir near LaPine, Oregon, serves as the primary source of water for irrigation in Jefferson County. This photo shows an unusually low water level at the reservoir this past summer.

The water level published in the Wednesday, Jan. 5 edition of the Madras Pioneer was most likely incorrect. The water level is not 29,434 acre feet, but is more likely closer to 62,000 acre feet, says Josh Bailey, NUID General Manager.

Calls from concerned patrons flooded in to the North Unit business office.

"The reading shot up to 207,000 acre feet, and down to 48,000 acre feet," says Bailey. "There's no reasonable explanation other than the sensor has malfunctioned."

Bailey says the dam tender has already identified one of the problems.

"We don't know actual water level," says Bailey. "We're sending a crew up to the reservoir tomorrow (Thursday) to fix the problem."

The NUID assumes the water level is closer to 62,000 acre feet, the last reading before the sensor started its big swings.

"The three feet of snow at the reservoir doesn't make things any easier," says Bailey.

The Wickiup Reservoir stores water from mountain snowpack and serves as the primary source of irrigation water for farmers in Jefferson County.


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