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Related Link Willamette Valley Biological Opinion

Posted 6/17/2013

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We made every effort to refill our 13 Willamette Valley reservoirs for the summer water conservation season, but water levels are unlikely to rise without significant additional rain.


We began refill of our reservoirs in February, but the Willamette Basin’s total precipitation for February and March 2013 was only about 60% of average. The basin’s snowpack also melted off faster than average.


We released minimum required fishery flow targets, and negotiated with fish and wildlife agencies to further lower outflows from some reservoirs (Detroit and Fern Ridge, for example) to hasten refill.


However, we had to increase releases in April and May to support the lifecycle of endangered fish species. Minimum flow targets required by the Willamette Biological Opinions support spawning, incubation, hatching, rearing and migration of juvenile salmon and steelhead.


Maintaining water levels high enough for late summer recreation may also be a challenge.


It’s obviously still a long ways off and there are many factors that could change, but our latest forecast shows water levels at the end of August may be near the bottom of popular boat ramps and marinas.


We have to balance many competing interests when developing our spring and summer water management operations.


We meet regularly before and during the conservation season with other federal, state and local agencies to coordinate regional water decisions that maximize benefits and minimize impacts.


We and our partners continually monitor weather forecasts and patterns, and biological and hydrological conditions. We make adjustments to operations as rapidly as possible to address short- and long-term condition changes.

refill reservoir