Drought not over yet ... but the outlook is positive
Rivers, lakes and reservoirs are still very low and even with the last series of storms there is no indication that Oregon's drought is overIt is too early to tell, but with the recent rain and snow storms that have hit the Pacific Northwest, many people are asking if the drought is over.
Locally, Russel Rhoden, manager of the Ochoco Irrigation District, said it is premature to talk about the end of the latest dry spell. However, from the reports he has heard about snow in the high country, he believes "it's better than last year."
The irrigation district's first snow survey isn't scheduled to be taken until the end of the month. Typically, between Christmas and New Years' Day, measurements are taken at Marks Creek. A month later, at the end of January, snow depth and water content measurements are taken at three sites in the Ochoco Mountains. From these, and other automatic reporting devices, the Bureau of Reclamation experts in Boise will determine whether the drought is officially over.
One good indicator that things are looking up, is the fact that, although slowly, the two local reservoir levels are rising.
No matter how much snow falls downtown, or even high up in the Ochoco Mountains, though, Rhoden said it is the ground water supply that needs recharging. "There are springs up there that have dried up. It is not only surface water that is important, but the ground water is what will make the end of the drought."
Meanwhile, the ever optimistic irrigation district manager said he believes the outlook will be "above what was predicted. They were reporting for a normal year, but I believe it'll be wetter."