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Old 01-28-2020, 08:30 PM   #1
crabbydan
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Default Why lower resivour levels in winter?

Just wondering why they keep swift so low in winter when we have some much water down here during this time? The cowlitz is high, as is many others. Just wondering.

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Old 01-28-2020, 08:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Why lower resivour levels in winter?

Believe it is so that when the snowpack melts the lake then fills up instead of having to dump a lot of extra water downstream during rainy months where the rivers are already running higher.


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Old 01-29-2020, 07:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: Why lower resivour levels in winter?

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Originally Posted by crabbydan View Post
Just wondering why they keep swift so low in winter when we have some much water down here during this time? The cowlitz is high, as is many others. Just wondering.
The epic flood of 1996 occurred in mid-February. The Pacific Northwest can get amazing accumulations of snow in both normal and abnormal years. If that snow is wet when it falls and builds up there is a lot of water stored in the mountains. Put this together with a "Pineapple Express" that can melt that snow in hours and we have a flood that needs a buffer before it hits populated areas. The reservoirs are the "sponge" that absorbs the shock of warm air and rain hitting mountains full of snow.

I looked at the video of the flood that we bought at the time and Willamette Falls looked like a big riffle with boat houses and homes going over but remaining intact. Impressive.

They calculate the snowpack that will be needed to fill the reservoirs for summer levels then spill water to keep enough room to accommodate the water in normal high runoff years. With a big snowpack and an Express there is not enough cushion to handle it all. Flood control is much more important to more people than is summer recreation. Without those reservoirs winter and early spring in the Valley would be much more interesting. Good Question!
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why lower resivour levels in winter?

Most of the reservoirs are multipurpose. They primarily act as flood control in the winter/spring and as irrigation resources in the summer. Recreation is just a complementary function and the 3rd most economic element of their purpose so it gets the least consideration.
Flood control involves maintaining the maximum capacity to capture "flood" waters during exceptional rain/snow events of winter and spring combined with retaining enough water in the summer to provide for domestic water and agricultural irrigation in the dry months. There are times like last year where they miscalculated in some areas and lowered the reservoirs too much. You can't always out fox mother nature.

The floods of 1996 were mentioned but they would have been far worse than the floods of 1964 without the resevoirs....especially on the McKenzie river. The 1964 floods reached all the way down into central California and lasted for a couple of weeks.
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Old 01-29-2020, 05:27 PM   #5
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Default Why lower resivour levels in winter?

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Most of the reservoirs are multipurpose. They primarily act as flood control in the winter/spring and as irrigation resources in the summer. Recreation is just a complementary function and the 3rd most economic element of their purpose so it gets the least consideration.


Thank you for stating this. For some reason people just don’t seem to grasp this. No,I’am not referring to anyone in this particular thread!

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Old 01-30-2020, 01:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why lower resivour levels in winter?

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Thank you for stating this. For some reason people just don’t seem to grasp this. No,I’am not referring to anyone in this particular thread!
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Old 01-31-2020, 09:32 PM   #7
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This makes perfect sense. Thank you all for the insight.
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:13 PM   #8
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Well here's my house right now, speak of the devil....
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Old 02-24-2020, 08:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: Why lower resivour levels in winter?

Without flood control dams on the Willamette 1964 would have been more like 1861 and 1896 or 7 when the river rose to 47 ft in Portland. Instead of the 35ft that what it actually reached.
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