PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Officials with Washington County Clean Water Services are releasing cool water from Hagg Lake and Barney Reservoir into the Tualatin River nearly a month early.
This happens every year to enhance water quality and support for fish and wildlife in the Tualatin River Watershed. It typically happens in July when stream flows drop and temperatures increase. Officials said the last few days of hot temperatures combined with a dry spring have caused the need for the early release.
Officials said the Tualatin River is at its lowest June level in more than 20 years. When the water levels are too low and the temperatures too high, trout will move out of the river and find cool pools.
Brian Wegener with Tualatin River Keepers said there is hardly any current in the river right now. It looks like what the river typically looks like in August.
“You gotta keep the river moving so the algae keeps growing but doesn’t die and cause the oxygen problem.” said Wegener.
Because the release of water from Hagg Lake is beginning earlier than normal, officials are careful to make sure it lasts. A four month supply will have to be stretched over five months.
Ely O’Connor, with Clean Water Services, said 7-million gallons a day are being released currently, but that could increase to 35-million gallons a day.
“Since we’re starting early it’s a longer duration that we’ll have to make the water last, so we’ll be really sensitive about how much we release and when.” she tells KOIN 6 News.