Low water levels at JaCo lakes could impact summer recreation

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. —Right now, It’s still winter, but spring is fast approaching.

But even though some lake levels are looking dangerously low, the data says otherwise.

Jackson County Parks says that Emigrant and Howard Prairie lakes are experiencing some of the lowest water levels since the late 1950s.

But the Army Corps of Engineers says it’s not a concern.

Jackson County Parks Manages Emigrant and Howard Prairie Lakes, where water levels are a concern, especially with summer recreation.

“Having usable boating facilities at Howard Prairie Reservoir, which is a major bummer because people are wanting to get out in record numbers post covid and enjoy the recreation opportunities we have,” says Steve Lambert with Jackson County Parks & Roads.

But the problem isn’t new.

According to the USDA, the Rogue Umpqua water basin, which includes Emigrant Lake, is at 89% of the average snow water equivalent, which is how the snowpack is measured.

Last year at this time it was far worse, at 69% of average.

That’s why the Army Corps of Engineers, who manage Lost Creek and Applegate lakes, isn’t concerned.

“This time of year it is not something that is of significant concern as there is plenty available time to catch up if mother nature provides precipitation,” says Chuck Grady with the Army Corps of Engineers.

But with spring fast approaching, Grady says he’s hoping a wet spring will make up for it.

“Like every other water manager in southern Oregon every drop of precipitation throughout the basin is precious,” says Grady.

We reached out to the Talent Irrigation District, but its leadership was unable to comment.

Moving forward, Jackson County says water recreation may look a little different this year, due to the water levels.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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