Snowpack measures yield ‘concerning’ results

Survey sites indicate snowpack at 8 percent of normal for this time of year.

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Data on snowpack during what is supposed to be the highest point of the year yield disturbing results.

The amount of water in the snowpack around the Deschutes/Crooked River Basin is “well below the norm,” the Bend Bulletin reports.

Automated snow sites around the Deschutes/Crooked River Basin show the snowpack in dire shape. As of Monday, the snowpack for the entire basin was at 8 percent of normal for this time of year. Typically, the Central Oregon snowpack peaks April 1.

“So here we are, where we should be seeing our maximum snow depths of the year, and we have 43 inches at Dutchman,” Moffitt said. “It’s just kind of concerning.”

The depth and density were low, but the city of Bend is not anticipating any additional water restrictions this summer, water conservation program manager Michael Buettner wrote.

However, climate changes could derail Bridge Creek project, the Bend Bulletin reports.

Central Oregon LandWatch and WaterWatch of Oregon filed a lawsuit in 2013 to stop the work, arguing the U.S. Forest Service failed to thoroughly investigate the environmental implications, in particular how climate change might affect the amount of water available. In December, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled in favor of the Forest Service and the city, but the litigants appealed to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit. In addition to the $24 million for the pipe, another $47.5 million is tied up in the project, a large share of which is funding a new state-of-the-art water treatment facility.

“The models indicate that by midcentury there will be a significant reduction in the volume of the water in Tumalo Creek above Tumalo Falls during summer and fall months, and that in the future there may be little or no water for the city of Bend to divert in warmer months,” LandWatch wrote in a summary of the report. “The study concludes that, ‘because of significant impacts of climate change on the upper portion of Tumalo Creek, from which the city of Bend gets its surface water, the city’s planned water withdrawals from Tumalo Creek may not be sustainable if flows over Tumalo Falls are to be protected.’”

What do you think? Are drought conditions the new normal in Oregon? Vote here.


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