Why experts are thrilled about snow in the Rogue Valley

ASHLAND, Ore. — All that snow in the forecast is more than just beautiful to look at, it’s necessary.

The snowpack has a big impact on our water supply supporting things like drinking water and agriculture.

“Literally, our water delivery infrastructure is built with the idea we’re going to get it from snow melt,” said Prof. Charles Lane, Southern Oregon University.

It’s certainly a white winter in parts of southern Oregon this year. With snowfall reaching historical averages on Mount Ashland and other western peaks.

“Snow melt is actually what waters our orchards, vineyards, and literally everything else agricultural here in the valley,” said Prof. Lane.

It’s why he says we’re so lucky; our infrastructure across the west like the Lost Creek and Hyatt Reservoirs can’t hold water for long.

“If we move from snowfall at its historic elevations now into rainfall… we don’t have the infrastructure in place to hold that water,” he said.

Oregon and many other western states have felt the effects of a dry winter. This past June, the water level at Emigrant Lake was at 12 percent of full capacity. Applegate Lake was 11 feet lower than it should have been.

“Re-building the water infrastructure that was built over forty or fifty years in the first half of the twentieth century would be a very expensive proposition,” said Prof. Lane.

It’s why the snow this year is not only beautiful, but very necessary.

“Right now we’re seeing about 5 or 6 million of gallons coming in on the eastern west fork… and there’s still snow on the mountains,” said Paula Brown, Public Works Director for the city of Ashland.

She says her city uses 6 million gallons of water every day during the summer and depends on getting it’s water from the Reeder Reservoir.

“We looked at the mountain right now and it’s around 57-58 inches… and that’s great it’s a better year than we’ve had for several years,” she said.

So, while many are hoping for a mild weekend, the experts are saying let it snow!

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