News Release Archive

McKay Dam Releases to Increase Causing Higher Stream Levels

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212,
Chet Sater,

For Release: January 20, 2011

The Bureau of Reclamation is urging the public to exercise caution as flows will increase from McKay Dam for the next several days in order to accommodate water entering the reservoir due to heavy precipitation and mountain snowmelt. The dam is located on McKay Creek about 6 miles south of Pendleton, Oregon.

Flows are set to increase January 20 in increments of 25 to 50 cubic feet per second (cfs), with an anticipated discharge of 250 cfs during the week of January 24. Discharges from the reservoir were holding at 10 cfs prior to the increase.

"People who live or recreate in the area of McKay Creek below McKay Dam should exercise caution due to the dangers inherent in swiftly moving or fluctuating water levels," said Chet Sater, Reclamation Natural Resource Specialist. "The recent high water events are a reminder of how quickly weather can affect streamflows and McKay Reservoir storage and operations."

Current weather patterns may require greater discharges than are typically common at this time of year. These elevated discharges may continue through April or May when normal irrigation operations begin.

McKay Dam was completed in 1927 and furnishes a supplementary supply of water to the Stanfield and Westland Irrigation Districts. The reservoir has an active capacity of 71,534 acre-feet, of which 6,000 acre-feet is used exclusively for flood control.

Local residents with questions about the reservoir operations can call Reclamation's Umatilla Field Office at (541) 564-8616.

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