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Herald and News by Stephen Floyd, 3/23/17

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has recommended reducing water levels in Upper Klamath Lake in light of possible flooding due to higher-than-average snowpack in the mountains.

In a statement Tuesday, the Klamath Basin BOR office said they were working with PacifiCorp to increase releases from dams along the Klamath River with the goal of reducing current lake levels.

As of Wednesday, BOR measurements put the lake at 89 percent full while the local snowpack is 113 percent of normal. Bureau spokesperson Laura Williams said lake levels need to be reduced in case warmer temperatures bring more snow melt runoff than the aquifer can handle.


“We’re trying to keep Upper Klamath Lake at a level to deal with any additional flooding,” said Williams.

Flooding conditions

Minor flooding occurred last month along the Sprague River due to warmer temperatures and high precipitation, with similar conditions causing flooding this week. Williams said hydrologists are keeping an eye on flood data to determine how low the lake should be and how quickly levels should be reduced.


In Tuesday’s release, BOR said they recommended increasing flows at Iron Gate Dam, near Hornbrook, Calif., from 9,500 cfs to 12,000 cfs to mitigate possible flooding. With increased flows from the lake, it is possible the Link River could flood, though it is not expected to exceed 7,700 cfs.

Williams said it is important for recreationalists in affected waterways to be aware of the increased flows and to use caution when fishing, hunting or traveling on the water. She said experienced recreationalists may already be familiar with such concerns as high flows are common this time of year.

For current lake level and flow conditions, visit www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/klamath/teacup.html.


Sprague River remains high

No evacuations have yet been ordered as high waters along the Sprague River flow downstream, posing minor flood threats to properties in the Chiloquin and Sprague River areas.

On Wednesday, Klamath County Emergency Manger Morgan Lindsay said some barns and outbuildings were flooded along Drews Road and standing water was observed on Mountain Pit Road, but flooding has yet to threaten any residences.

Though current high water levels were predicted to flow into the Williamson River by Friday, Lindsay said the water is moving much slower than minor flooding experienced last month and the Sprague River will remain high “through the weekend, or longer.”

Sand and bags remain available at Chiloquin Fire and Rescue headquarters and the Sprague River Community Center.




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