Deschutes River could cause Tumalo flooding

By Dylan J. Darling The Bulletin
Published Feb 19, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Feb 19, 2014 at 06:37PM

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, ddarling@bendbulletin.com

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.

Rob Kerr / The Bulletin Ruth LaMarche, on her property in Tumalo Tuesday evening, said she is worried that floodwaters will be directed to her home because of a nearby vacant lot that is at a higher elevation than her lot along the Deschutes River. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office issued a press release warning of increasing flooding potential for the Tumalo community and warned water recreators should avoid the river downstream of Mirror Pond.
Rob Kerr / The Bulletin The Deschutes River is on the rise near the home of Ruth LaMarche, in Tumalo Tuesday evening.The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office issued a press release warning of increasing flooding potential for the Tumalo community and warned water recreators to avoid the river downstream of Mirror Pond.
Rob Kerr / The Bulletin Tumalo resident Marsha Anderson, with her dog Scooter Tuesday evening, says she’s not too worried about her metal furniture sitting in the rising waters of the Deschutes River. She says it has been there for five years and is too heavy to move. Deschutes County officials warned of increasing flooding potential for the Tumalo community and put out a request for kayakers and others to avoid floating the river downstream of Mirror Pond.