This morning as I rolled across the walking bridge on my way to work I noted the wide, frozen, muddy shoals that framed the narrow, in-town stretch of the Deschutes River [area formerly known as Mirror Pond] as it flowed past Drake Park.
(On Oct. 2 a significant leak burst in the 103-year-old Newport Avenue dam, the impoundment that creates Mirror Pond. Since then, there has been very little water in the pond. So little, in fact, that you could hardly call it a pond anymore. The water of the Deschutes looked more like a lazy river as it settled back in to its natural channel and expansive banks revealed land that could be reclaimed as parks space or landscaped with native plants.)
But when I rode home for lunch this afternoon, the pond was almost full again!
A quick call to Kyle Gorman, the Oregon Water Resource Department's south central regional manager, revealed why. The short answer is, irrigation season is officially over and water upstream of town is no longer being diverted into two major canals, thus—and as of 6am this morning—an extra 250 cfs or so started flowing into town. Just enough, apparently, to temporarily fill the pond back up, despite the fact that the leak in the dam remains. Gorman, who was as surprised as I was to hear that Mirror Pond was mostly full again, reckons that the new inflow is just enough to offset the amount leaking through the dam. But, he said, that could soon change as water continues to surge through the breach in the dam.
"So maybe the pond will start dropping back down again," Gorman concluded. As of the middle of the day today, 501 cfs were flowing through town.