Is it climate change? Part of our normal cycle? A…
As of late October, Wickiup Reservoir was at nine percent of its normal capacity. That’s a record.
Wickiup is situated about 60 miles southwest of Bend in Jefferson County. It’s not unusual for the lake to be low this time of year. The dam, completed in 1949, was built for irrigation. County farmers and ranchers draw upon the water through summer and fall. In a normal year, Wickiup would be at about 30 percent capacity by late October.
The trouble this year, of course, was a record low winter snowpack combined with very little rainfall this spring. Wickiup also relies on groundwater for inflow. But with so little snowmelt, groundwater sources were not recharged.
Now, as a very strong El Nino winter looms ahead, the chances for enough snow to rejuvenate the lake are slim.
Besides irrigation, Wickiup is also important for recreation. It’s considered one of Oregon’s best lakes for brown trout and kokanee fishing. This fall, anglers are finding just a few fish in the bit of water that remains.
The boat launch sits high and dry above the water line.