Reclamation plans to increase flows out of McKay Dam March 9–10

Media Contact: Michael Coffey, (208) 378-5020, mcoffey@usbr.gov
Donna Biggerstaff, donna.biggerstaff@ci.pendleton.or.us

For Release: February 27, 2020

PENDLETON, Ore. – On March 9, 2020, the Bureau of Reclamation, in close coordination with the City of Pendleton and Umatilla County officials, plans to increase releases to 200 cubic feet per second out of McKay Dam. On March 10, 2020, Reclamation will incrementally increase releases up to 1,200 cfs for several hours, then gradually decrease flows to minimum releases on March 11.

The intent of the planned increase in releases is to test the downstream safe channel capacity now that the City of Pendleton has completed gravel removal work in McKay Creek. McKay Dam is operating as expected, and the dam is safe.

“We appreciate the opportunity to further our work with local partners through this exercise,” said Umatilla Field Office Manager Sean Kimbrel. “In partnership with the National Weather Service, we will continue to monitor the spring weather conditions that inform reservoir operations at McKay Dam and will further the history of collaboration with the City of Pendleton and Umatilla County.”

Reclamation, City of Pendleton, and Umatilla County officials are advising the public to be aware of the potential danger associated with high flows in McKay Creek. Spring flow releases from McKay Dam can vary depending on available storage and forecasted weather conditions. Residents are reminded that the water is cold and can be deep and fast in various locations. Extreme caution should be used near the riverbanks.

In coordination with the National Weather Service, Reclamation will continue to closely monitor weather conditions that inform the reservoir operations and releases at McKay Dam and Reservoir. Weather forecasts can be uncertain and change over time. Additionally, Reclamation will continue to work closely with Umatilla County and City of Pendleton to provide advance notification during situations when high flows need to be released out of McKay Dam.

Currently, McKay reservoir is at approximately 75 percent of normal capacity. A full supply of irrigation water out of McKay Reservoir is anticipated this summer. McKay Reservoir has a normal capacity of 65,500 acre-feet; however, an additional 6,000 acre-feet of storage is available for flood control purposes.

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.

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The Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior and is the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Our facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation opportunities, and environmental benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/rtgraph.html?list=mcko%20q&daily=mcko%20qd