Releases hit 2,750 cubic feet per second out of Reclamation’s McKay Dam

Media Contact: Michael Coffey, 208-378-5020, mcoffey@usbr.gov

For Release: April 13, 2019

PENDLETON, Ore.—The Bureau of Reclamation is again increasing flood control releases out of McKay Dam. Outflows from the dam are currently 2,500 cfs and will be ramped up to 2,750 cfs at 2:00 p.m. PDT. Additional increases to flows are likely within the next 24–48 hours. The area is experiencing the largest inflows on record, and water managers are closely monitoring weather forecasts and are adjusting releases to balance inflows, rising reservoir levels, and downstream conditions while ensuring the integrity of the dam remains intact.

“The amount of water coming into this system is unprecedented,” said Sean Kimbrel, Umatilla Field Office manager.

Reclamation officials remain in close coordination with the Umatilla County Sheriff, Umatilla County officials, the City of Pendleton, and the National Weather Service. This interagency team meets regularly to receive updates on changing conditions and forecasts that inform timely and accurate decisions on operations.

“The number one priority of this interagency team during flood operations is life and safety. Our focus is to protect life and mitigate risks from this flood event,” Kimbrel added.

Reclamation officials are advising the public to be aware of the potential danger associated with McKay Creek flows, and to avoid McKay Creek and take necessary precautions. The water is cold and can be deep and fast in various locations. Residents are strongly urged to stay away from the creek banks because the extreme flows can compromise bank stability.

These flood control releases are designed to create space in the reservoir to accommodate additional predicted precipitation over the coming week. McKay Dam is functioning properly, and there are currently no concerns about dam safety.

Releases out of McKay Dam are subject to change based on the changing spring time weather conditions, and updated inflow forecasts for McKay Creek.

For real-time McKay Creek flow information from McKay Dam, visit https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/rtgraph.html?list=mcko%20q&daily=mcko%20qd.

Additional information can be found at the Umatilla County Emergency Management Office website at https://public.alertsense.com/SignUp/?regionid=1268, and the City of Pendleton website at https://pendleton.or.us/.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.