PLANNING PROCESS FOR 2014 RELEASE SCHEDULE JUST STARTING
PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners have started their annual planning of summer water management at the Corps’ Rogue River Basin Project. Initial projections are that 2014 water supplies at Lost Creek and Applegate reservoirs may be lower than last year’s.
“The most recent Northwest River Forecast Center water supply outlook for Lost Creek Reservoir is about 500,000 acre feet of runoff from April through September,” said Alan Donner, reservoir regulator for the Corps’s Rogue River Basin Project, which manages Applegate and William L. Jess dams. “Our observed runoff at Lost Creek for the same period last year was about 568,000 acre feet.”
Donner said that the NWRFC is currently estimating April through September runoff into Applegate Lake of about 73,000 acre feet, less than last year’s observed runoff of 82,000 acre feet.
Snowpack for the Rogue and Umpqua basins is currently 33 percent of median, compared to 89 percent this time last year. Precipitation thus far this water year is about 60 percent of average, compared to about 100 percent last year.
“We have seen a turnaround in flows from all the rain the past two weeks, but at this point we don't know if this is a trend or if conditions will revert back to dry,” Donner said.
The Corps works with a variety of federal and state environmental protection, fish and wildlife, and water resource agencies to develop its annual May through October water management plan. Initial discussions start in February. Because 165,000 of the reservoirs’ 390,000 acre feet of storage – over 40 percent – is allocated to fisheries enhancement, the recommendations of federal and state fish and wildlife agencies are particularly noted.
February’s discussions and recommendations are followed by preliminary reservoir level and flow projections in March, then more detailed flow recommendations in April. The process is continually informed by NWRFC and Natural Resource Conservation Service water supply forecasts.
“Because of the very dry winter we’ve had, we’re already starting to receive a lot of calls and email messages from folks asking how much water we’re planning to release from our dams this summer,” said Jim Buck, Rogue River Basin Project operations manager. “But we only started to refill our reservoirs within the past month, and started receiving significant rain and snow within the past two weeks. It’s far too early to make those types of projections.”
Buck added that the recent rainfall has helped both reservoirs, which were lagging badly behind their fill schedules earlier this month. Lost Creek surpassed the target elevation for the date and Applegate came within nine feet of catching up.
Past and current Rogue Basin reservoir and river elevations and flows can be seen at http://www.nwd-wc.usace.army.mil/nwp/teacup/rogue/.
The Rogue Basin water management plan is usually finalized in May, although mid-summer alterations are often made due to changing weather conditions and water availability. The 2013 plan and its July update are available at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Locations/RogueRiver/LostCreek.aspx.
William L. Jess and Applegate dams contribute to a water resource management system that provides flood damage reduction, fish and wildlife enhancement, irrigation, municipal and industrial water supply, power generation, water quality improvement and recreation on the Rogue and Applegate rivers. For more information, visit http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil.
Release no. 14-013