Lakes Dry Up As Lack of Rain Continues

dry lakes

APPLEGATE, Ore. — It’s the driest year on record for most of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Lakes and rivers in the area are drying up, and there is no help in sight.

The Applegate Reservoir is usually filled to the brim with water, but right now it’s nothing more than a muddy desert.

“We’re praying for water. We’re praying for rain. It’s really, really low,” said Applegate Reservoir visitor Bear Perrin.

Perrin uses the lake year-round, and he said he’s never seen it this low.

“We’ve seen it pretty low but not low enough to go past the boat ramps,” said Perrin.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Applegate Reservoir is 22 feet below its normal water levels for this time of year.

Officials said the region has less than a quarter of precipitation it should have this time of year, and this lack of rain and snow will impact Southern Oregon and Northern California.

“Things can turn around but when we are this far in the hole it would take substantial storm after storm to  bring us back up to where we’d like to be,” said Jim Buck, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operation Project Manager.

Buck said snow pack is extremely important because without it there will be little or no runoff in the summer, that means streams instead of rivers, and ponds instead of lakes.  However, right now there is nothing anyone can do but cross their fingers and hope for the best.

“I’m praying, ‘Please, God. Please.’…It will be a tough summer, but I think we are going to get it,” said Perrin.

The last time the Rogue Valley saw a drought was back in 2001, and it looks like there could possibly one on the horizon for 2014.


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  1. Fred Hutchison says:

    This is false reporting. Applegate lake is extremely low every year in December and January, with only the low water boat ramp functional (across the dam at French Gulch). Yes, the lake is lower than normal, but stating the lake is “usually full to the brim” is just absolutely wrong. Only in the beginning of spring would that statement be true.

  2. jeff says:

    Only an inch of snow on Mt. Ashland and we’re usually skiing by Christmas. I would say it’s not too far off. Not a good situation for sure. Gonna be a rough fire season.

  3. Scott Clemans says:

    I’m a Corps of Engineers public affairs specialist. During the winter months, we hold the water level at Applegate Reservoir at or below elevation 1,890 feet above sea level – almost 100 feet below its maximum summer elevation of 1,987 feet – to store water that might otherwise cause flooding downriver. And even during the summer months when the reservoir is “full,” it’s usually lower than that maximum elevation, too, as we release water into the Applegate River to provide fish and wildlife habitat, irrigation and other benefits downriver. That hardly qualifies as “filled to the brim.”

    The Corps’ other Rogue River Basin Project reservoir, Lost Creek, which is much larger in terms of storage (315,000 acre-feet of useable storage versus Applegate’s 82,000), is only 4 feet below its desired elevation versus Applegate’s 23. So although *a* lake of ours is significantly lower than desired, I don’t think that translates into Corps *lakes* in your area “drying up.”

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