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Reservoirs Rise But Still Below Average

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ASHLAND, Ore. — Temperatures are warming, and it is causing what little snow pack there is on Mount Ashland and Mount Shasta, to start to melt.  The run-off helps to fill local reservoirs, but officials said those reservoirs are lower than year’s past.

Emigrant lake is 39 percent full, and that is higher than it’s been in the past few weeks. Local orchardists said with water levels where they are at right now, they will have enough water to irrigate their crops this summer.

At the Meyer Pear Orchard in Talent, the dry weather is allowing them to get their pruning out of the way early.  However, possible irrigation restrictions this summer are a growing concern.

“Everyone is going to have to be careful that we don’t use more than absolutely necessary,” said Ron Meyer, Owner of Meyer Orchard.

However, it’s not just the hottest part of the summer when they rely on water…they start using it sometimes as early as March to protect their crops from frost.

“It’s going to be a very iffy situation to protect the trees from frost for the entire frost season because of the shortage,” said Meyer.

Pear orchardists use heaters, power by fossil fuel, as well as sprinkler systems above and below their crops to keep them protected from the frost, but for farmers who have to pull irrigation water from rivers and streams not connected to the reservoirs. That water source could be dry due of the lack of snow pack this year, which means no water, and no water equals no crops, making this a detrimental season for pears.

The city of Ashland is also concerned about the lack of snow pack. Their reservoir is 93 percent full now, but the big question is: will it remain that way?

The city has a contingency plan in place, but said water restrictions could go into effect this summer if we do not see more precipitation in the near future.

“We could restrict at that point and time people from washing their cars washing off the sidewalk with water, and really limit it specific items,” said Ashland Public Works director, Mike Faught.

At this point, fingers are crossed for a wet and rainy next couple of months. Meyer said if we do see the dry weather pattern persist over the next few months, he is concerned about where the reservoirs will be this time next year.