PacifiCorp is advising residents and those who use Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs for recreation that both will remain noticeably below normal water levels through at least the end of June. However, both reservoirs should remain accessible for recreation, including the use of boat ramps, during that time.
PacifiCorp began lowering Copco and Iron Gate in Siskiyou County in early May to make approximately 15,000 acre-feet of water from the reservoirs available to help the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation manage competing water needs in the Klamath Basin during a critically dry water year. As a result, water levels at both reservoirs will remain about eight feet below normal through May and then gradually refill to normal water levels during the month of June. While PacifiCorp expects that normal access will be available by the July 4 holiday, it is possible that the drawdown could be extended into the fall depending on conditions and broader water management decisions.
Boat ramps should remain accessible through the summer since water levels remain higher than during previous draw-downs. The company recently completed work to extend boat ramps further into the reservoirs at the Jay Williams Day Use Area and Copco Cove to keep them useable with lower water levels. Other ramps may or may not be useable depending on the water levels and users are encouraged to check water depths before attempting to launch their boats. Day-use areas, including restrooms and other facilities, remain closed at both reservoirs due to COVID-19 restrictions and the company urges recreationists to monitor and adhere to state and county public health and safety guidelines.
PacifiCorp expects peaking flows downstream of J.C. Boyle Dam in Klamath County, Oregon will remain sufficient to support whitewater rafting. Flows downstream of Keno Dam should be relatively stable and provide fishing access to the Keno Reach.
“We are pleased that the reservoirs should remain accessible this year despite the lower water levels,” said Todd Andres, Pacific Power’s regional business manager in Klamath Falls. “At the same time, we want residents and recreationists to be aware that water levels will be below normal and that they should take necessary precautions.”
Lowering Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs allows the Bureau of Reclamation to retain water in Upper Klamath Lake and supports efforts to balance the competing needs for water to support Klamath Basin agriculture, Klamath River flows, and Upper Klamath Lake level requirements in place to protect endangered and threatened fish.