Deschutes River

Roots from a large ponderosa pine extend outward from the banks of the Deschutes River in La Pine State Park in this file photo. 

We are in a time of water scarcity in Deschutes County. We are all aware of our surface water problems, primarily flows in the Deschutes River above Bend and the diversions to agriculture. Less well known is the issue of groundwater depletion, an area where Deschutes County can be proactive. When most of us think of water, it’s the water that we use in and around our homes. This water mostly comes out of the ground, even farmers use groundwater for their domestic use.

We have known since 2013 that groundwater is declining. Declines are primarily due to a shrinking snowpack, but the second major influence is groundwater pumping at an unsustainable rate. Irrigation canal lining is a much smaller factor, perhaps only 10%. We can see the impact of a shrinking aquifer in smaller springs, lower river levels, and domestic wells declining and sometimes going dry.

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Yancy Lind blogs about fish and water


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