The Army Corps of Engineers says they generally drain the reservoir for Lost Creek Lake and Applegate Lake between November and February.
“What’s the water supply need? What’s the biological need? And our biggest concern is not having enough water to make those end-users, which affects recreation, as well. We have an allotment of water that is all dependent on hydrology,” said the Portland District Army Corp’s Chief of Reservoir Regulation and Water Quality, Salina Hart, says Lost Creek Lake is currently facing another historically dry year.
“We are low at Lost Creek right now, because of that back-to-back-to-back dry year, we’ve been using all of the available carryover storage and this is the first time we’ve depleted it.”
Hart says this can greatly affect the Rogue River.
“We’ve seen a lot of fish kills when we have low river levels, you get diseases, you get warming temperatures and that’s really what we try to focus on in the summer,” said Hart.
Though she says the water levels did rise partially thanks to some of the snow and rain we had in December and January.
Hart says the Army Corps of Engineers work closely with the Oregon Water Resources Department, as well as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to best monitor the situation.
“We look at what kind of water year it’s going to be so we’ll start doing some statistical analysis, looking at historical water years and what forecasts we may see later on,” said Hart.
Ultimately, what’s needed is mother nature ruling in southern Oregon’s favor – “We don’t have the rain. We can’t fill our projects, we have to meet downstream flow conditions and ideally, the more water, the better benefits you get,” Hart said.
Currently, the Lost Creek Lake reservoir water surface sits just below 1,800 feet.