Tag Archives: Water Issues

Success Stories

By: John Stevenson

Owyhee Dam historic photos. commons.wikimedia.org

Owyhee Dam historic photo. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Unless you have been living under a defunct tractor with feral cats for the last 10 months, you know it’s not a good news year for anything related to water. Despite this, a few weeks ago I traveled to Malheur County in eastern Oregon looking for ‘success stories’ growing up through the cracks while gathering footage for a film that CIRC and Oregon Sea Grant are producing to document this year’s drought. On the one hand, there is no shortage of examples of how the prolonged drought – three years and running – has impacted eastern Oregon. The Owyhee Reservoir carries over 700,000 acre feet of active storage for irrigating crops, usually amounting to more than a two year supply for production in the Treasure Valley along the Snake River that divides Oregon and Idaho. In 2013, the reservoir failed to fill and supplies were exhausted, then it happened again in 2014, and is becoming something of the norm this year, with just five percent of active storage remaining at the beginning of August. Take any of these years and the impact of the drought is on par with other bad years, 1977 and 1992 come to mind, but consider the failure to fill four years in a row, and the drought’s impact on the Treasure Valley is unprecedented in a history that goes all the way back to 1932. Continue reading