Malheur Basin begins flood risk management releases

Feb. 6, 2024
Warm Springs Reservoir and Bully Creek Reservoir will start releasing water for flood risk management due to a combination of above-average reservoir carryover and above-average precipitation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced that it will begin releases from the Malheur River Basin to lower the risk of floods and safely manage reservoir refill.

The decision came due to a combination of above-average reservoir carryover from last year and above-average precipitation in the Malheur River Basin this winter. Releases from Warm Springs, Agency Valley, and Bully Creek dams will be continually assessed based on basin conditions and may cause fluctuations in river flows downstream of the reservoirs.

Releases from the reservoirs and natural surrounding flow are expected to be in the range of 1,500 cubic feet per second near Vale, Oregon starting later this week.

A flow rate of approximately 3,800 cfs, or a river depth of 19.5 feet, at the Malheur River Below Nevada Dam near Vale, Oregon United States Geological Survey (USGS) gauge, is considered flood-stage level on the Malheur River.

As of Feb. 5, the Malheur River basin has received 118% of normal water year to date precipitation, and the snowpack in the basin is 114% of normal according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USACE and the Bureau of Reclamation help manage three dams on the Malheur River as a system for flood risk management and irrigation storage needs – Warm Springs Dam, Agency Valley Dam (Beulah Reservoir), and Bully Creek Dam. Currently, Warm Springs Reservoir is 73% of capacity, Agency Valley Reservoir is 54% of capacity, and Bully Creek Reservoir is 65% of capacity.

More current river flow and water storage information is available at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s website.