Detroit Lake is full for first time in years

Detroit Lake replenished from all the snow and rain

Detroit Lake is filled for the first time in years, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)
Detroit Lake is filled for the first time in years, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)

DETROIT LAKE, Ore. (KOIN) – When you drive on Highway 22 you come across Detroit Lake, one of the busiest recreation lakes in Oregon. Every year you can gauge how well the snowpack and rain has been by how high the water is.

The last few years have been tough, but this year the Army Corps of Engineers says the lake has reached its maximum conservation pool at 1563.5 surface elevation. It has been a balancing act the last few years, and now, finally, Mother Nature has been good to the lake.

Dean O’Donnell of Detroit Lake is feeling good about the water.

Detroit Lake is filled for the first time in years, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)
Detroit Lake is filled for the first time in years, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)

“I get up in the morning and I see the lake at the shoreline and we haven’t seen that in a while,” O’Donnell told KOIN 6 News.

“The first time I saw Detroit it was completely empty and all I saw was stumps,” said Salina Hart with the Army Corps of Engineers.

A horse drawn wagon was found in the dry Detroit Lake bed (DAVE ZAHN)
A horse drawn wagon was found in the dry Detroit Lake bed (DAVE ZAHN)

Rewind to 2015: A state in a drought, a deprived lake.

Hart said then, “We haven’t filled this in a few years. In 2015 we had a statewide drought and 2016 we couldn’t reach the maximum conservation pool.”

After record-breaking months of rain and snow, no more drought and Detroit Lake is again hiding old relics beneath the shimmering water.

Joe Kellum, who is part of the Detroit community, is ready for the season.

“I just got a new boat and I can’t wait to get it on the water and see what it has,” Kellum said.

O’Donnell said the business morale is phenomenal.

“We just spent 2 years with bad weather — one dry year and last year we lost the month of August,” he said. “That was critical for the marinas. They were sitting on the ground in August.”

Now the lake is plenty full and residents and visitors are ready for recreation.

“We should be good all season and hopefully after the season is over we can still keep on going,” Kellum said.

Not only will this summer bring the first full lake in years, it’ll also be full for the total solar eclipse in August — with Detroit Lake in the path of totality.

Detroit Lake is filled for the first time in years, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)
Detroit Lake is filled for the first time in years, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)