Low Deschutes River Flow Reveals Mirror Pond Mudflats

 Photo: Ryan Brennecke / The Bulletin. An area of large mudflats in Mirror Pond are exposed Wednesday afternoon because of low water

Photo: Ryan Brennecke / The Bulletin. An area of large mudflats in Mirror Pond are exposed Wednesday afternoon because of low water

State official says three factors contribute to low river level

It is not just drought causing the reappearance of the Mirror Pond mud flats this week in downtown Bend.

Three factors combined to cause the Deschutes River’s low flow as it passes through the city, said Kyle Gorman, region manager for the Oregon Water Resources Department in Bend. They are: slight releases from Wickiup Reservoir, nearly half average flow from the Little Deschutes River and temporary irrigation diversions, or “stock runs.”

In an effort to fill Wickiup, the state Wednesday was releasing only 22 cubic feet per second of water down the Deschutes. The average release for the date is more than 120 cfs.

As the river flows to Bend the Deschutes takes in water from the Little Deschutes near Sunriver. The Little Deschutes was running at 65 cfs Wednesday, compared with an average around 100 cfs for the date. “It is just lingering effects from the dry summer,” Gorman said.

The last factor is stock runs by the Central Oregon, Swalley and Tumalo irrigation districts. The runs give water users a chance to fill ponds for livestock, said Craig Horrell, general manager for Central Oregon Irrigation District. This week’s were the first of the year and end Friday, although two or three more are planned before irrigation season starts next spring.

“I would hope by Saturday the river comes back up,” he said.

— Dylan J. Darling, The Bulletin