Lost Creek and Applegate lakes may not completely fill this year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This would be the first time in eight years that Lost Creek has not filled.
“Rainfall and snowpack this year has been lower than normal,” said Laurie Rice, a Corps hydraulic engineer who supervises reservoir regulation for the Rogue River Basin Project. “We don’t expect Lost Creek and Applegate reservoirs to fill in early May, but it’s possible that they will both be full by the end of the month – depending on future precipitation and snowmelt.”
The Corps relies on winter snow runoff and spring rains to fill it’s reservoirs in the Rogue Basin area. At this time, Applegate Lake is projected to fill by mid-May and forecasts for Lost Creek Lake indicate a 50 percent chance of filling by the end of May.
Last week’s storm brought some 16 inches of new snow to Crater Lake, bringing the snow on the ground a bit above the same time as last year.
Despite recent storms, the Corps remains concerned about the long term picture. And as a result, they announced starting May 1, they would cut the flow to 700 cfs (cubic feet per second) for an undetermined period. They began dropping the out flow late last week.
Those planning to be on the river need to be aware of this reduction in stream flow, one of the lowest in many years.
Even with lower reservoir levels, sufficient water storage will be available in both reservoirs to meet conservation releases for fisheries enhancement, irrigation and municipal and industrial water supply. The releases are coordinated with the State of Oregon and will be shared May 25 at a public meeting at the Rogue Regency in Medford, as well as mailed in a conservation plan in June.
Both reservoirs will have recreation opportunities available, with boat ramps and launches accessible through the summer season. Boaters may encounter navigational hazards earlier in the season due to lower water and should be on the lookout for these while on or in the water.
For updated information about water and boat ramp levels in the Corps’ Rogue River Basin reservoirs during the recreation season, the public is encouraged to call 541-878-2255. Teacup diagrams for Applegate Lake and Lost Creek Lake are at http://www.nwd-wc.usace.army.mil/nwp/teacup/rogue/, where visitors will see the latest lake elevation levels.