Study Finds Shift in Timing of Water Availability in Oregon’s Hood River Basin

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Bureau of Reclamation Develops Collaborative Report with Hood River County and the Hood River County Water Planning Group

Hood River Basin Study Cover

Hood River Basin Study

The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Hood River Basin Study, which assesses current and future water supply and demand in the Hood River Basin in Oregon and adjacent areas. This study identifies a range of potential strategies to address current and projected imbalances within the basin, options to move towards resilience in the face of water shortages, and will help to improve water management while sustaining the watershed’s environmental quality over the next 30 years. The basin study is among the latest of a West-wide series of studies produced by Reclamation and non-federal partners and comes on the eve of a scheduled White House Roundtable on Water Innovation where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join other senior Obama Administration officials and several private sector investors to discuss how to plan, effectively use and develop new clean water supplies to ensure our nation’s resilience to water supply shortages.

"The Hood River Basin is the latest basin in the western United States where Reclamation and its partners have joined forces to confront widening imbalances between water supply and demand," Commissioner López said. "Through collaboration within the basin, I am confident that we will be able to close the gaps between supply and demand and ensure a sustainable water supply for communities within the basin."

Currently, there is a lack of adequate streamflow in the basin during the summer months to meet the competing demands for water. The basin relies heavily on snowmelt at the beginning of the summer and glacial melt from Mount Hood during August and September.

Demands for water are also expected to increase as climate change and population increase. The report found that warming temperatures in future years will accelerate the speed of snowpack and glacial melting. This will exacerbate the shortages experienced in the summer months since water from snowmelt will be available earlier in the year. Accelerated glacial melt will result in a short-term increase in water supply but will result in a long-term loss of supply and storage when the glaciers melt. The report also cites the Hood River County Population Forecast Study that projects a 30 percent growth in the area’s population between 2010 and 2040.

The basin study also identifies alternatives that may mitigate current imbalances between water supply and demand while establishing a framework for resilience in the face of persistent water shortages. The study developed 38 alternatives to address the basin's imbalances in water supply and demand. Of the 38 alternatives, six were selected for further evaluation based on their ability to conserve water, recharge groundwater and store surface water.

The Hood River Basin is located in Oregon, approximately 60 miles east of Portland and covers approximately 340 square miles, lying entirely within Hood River County. The Hood River Basin Study was developed in partnership between the Bureau of Reclamation, Hood River County and the Hood River County Water Planning Group. The study is available to download from the WaterSMART basin studies website at

The Basin Study Program is part of the WaterSMART Program. WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. To learn more about WaterSMART, please visit

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Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation
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