March snow pack report shows drought
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
;The final spring snow report for the Ochoco Mountains is in, and the amount of water in the high country is well below normal.
>The latest snow report shows the snow pack that feeds both Ochoco and Prineville reservoirs to be low, and the Bureau or Reclamation experts, using more information, reports an even bleak outlook
Russell Rhoden, manager of the Ochoco Irrigation District, said the amount of water left to make its way to either of the region's two reservoirs is about 50 percent of normal. Rhoden's information takes only one factor into account: the amount of snow pack that is measured. From the Bureau of Reclamation, a different picture is drawn.
Ted Day, forecaster with the BOR uses a number of additional readings and makes is situation report based on a 30-year average. The latest report from his perspective shows the available water to be at 33 percent of normal.
Rhoden said irrigators will be okay this year. "We've cut back on the allotments, although we may reconsider that down the road. But we have to be careful or Ochoco reservoir could be in pretty bad shape by October."
Earlier this winter, it appeared that while Ochoco Reservoir would not likely fill this year, Prineville Reservoir was expected to come close. That, according to the latest estimates, will probably not happen. Day's forecast indicates that Prineville Reservoir will fill only to the 120,000 or 130,000 acre feet level. It takes about 152,000 acre feet to fill that reservoir.
"Most irrigators know what the situation is," Rhoden said, "but we also serve several subdivisions and they have to be aware. It's impacting everybody."