By Dylan J. Darling
After rising for the past couple of days, the flow along the Deschutes River is expected to peak today.
The question is whether it will cause any flooding for homes along the river in Tumalo, the small community between Bend and Sisters.
“It is kind of yet to be seen how high it is going to get,” said Sgt. Nathan Garibay of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
Garibay and Jeremy Giffin, Deschutes Basin watermaster for the Oregon Water Resources Department, were out in Tumalo Tuesday warning residents about the rising water, which was already on some riverside lawns.
The combination of heavy snow followed by warm rain earlier this month caused a pulse of water first to move through the Little Deschutes River, which isn’t regulated by a dam, and now through the Deschutes River around Bend, said Kyle Gorman, region manager for the Water Resources Department in Bend.
Gorman drove the bridges in town Tuesday and said the river is flowing at its summertime level.
“It is looking fairly high,” he said.
This time of year, though, there’s a difference that could cause high water downstream of Bend. During the summer there are normally irrigation diversions in town that lower the flow along the river downstream of Bend. The summer flow is typically about 150 cubic feet per second at a gauge maintained by the Oregon Water Resources Department near The Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center.
In contrast, the wintertime flow at the same gauge is usually 400 to 800 cfs, Gorman said. On Tuesday, the flow was at 1,150 cfs and rising.
“So this is fairly high compared to what we normally see in the wintertime,” Gorman said.
Along with cautioning Tumalo residents about the rising water, Garibay, the emergency services manager for Deschutes County, put out a request for kayakers to avoid floating the river between Mirror Pond and Tumalo until the high water subsides.
He also warned people using riverside trails along the same stretch to be careful.
“We just want people to be cautious anywhere around the water’s edge,” he said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7812, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. In the original version, the group that maintains a water gauge was misidentified. The Bulletin regrets the error.