Tumalo residents watching Deschutes waters rise

Reservoir releases suspended to ease flood threat

Tumalo sees high waters

TUMALO, Ore. - People living along the rising Deschutes River in Tumalo are watching as it inches closer to their homes.

"I have never seen it that high,” resident Kenndra Urbach said Thursday.

Deschutes Basin Watermaster Jeremy Giffin said releases from the Wickiup Reservoir have been suspended because of flooding concerns.

"We're starting to see some warmer temperatures, and along with those warmer temperatures, we're starting to see some rises in area streams and rivers,” he said.

The river is flowing at a much higher rate than usual.

"In the summertime, we usually see flows of about 150 cfs (cubic feet per second), so 1,300 cfs is about 10 times the normal flow to this area,” Giffin said.

People around town have noticed the difference.

"It's just been probably about 8 feet higher. You see it on the banks that it's definitely raised a lot,” said Igrid Martin, who works nearby.

Jerry Sorenson lives in one of the homes on the banks of the Deschutes.

"Obviously it's high," he said. "It's flooding pretty good in this area. I'm fortunate, because it won't get to my house,. 

That's because there is enough bank between him and the river to keep his home protected, but that’s not the case for everyone.

"Up here closer to Highway 20, the houses are a lot lower, compared to the river level, and some of those might be in trouble,” Sorenson said.

To ease the flooding threat, Giffin said he asked, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to suspend Wickiup Reservoir releases resulting from last year’s settlement of a lawsuit over protecting the Oregon spotted frog.

Griffin said he expects the water to start flowing again within the next few days, once the threat of flooding is over.

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