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Lost Creek, Applegate lakes on pace to fill

I've been watching all winter and spring at the filling rates at Lost Creek and Applegate lakes. The releases have been up and down and seem to be changing all the time. It seems like they've been releasing too much water while the lakes slowly fill, seemingly jeopardizing whether they will actually fill this year. We need that water. Are they going to fill?

— B.B., Medford

We at Since You Ask Central are not-so-closet water geeks and track it almost daily ourselves, B.B., so we know what's caught your eyes at Jackson County's two largest impoundments.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built and operates both Lost Creek and Applegate dams and the reservoirs they create, both of which follow filling schedules to get them both at full pool May 1 each year.

It doesn't always happen that way, like last year.

This year, with two weeks to go before that May 1 target, both reservoirs are 1.3 feet ahead of their normal filling schedules. That's why you're seeing outflows last week of 3,300 cubic feet per second out of Lost Creek Lake.

"We're looking pretty good to fill," says Corps spokeswoman Amy Echols. "We're on track. If all goes well, we'll fill."

While rains have been a big influence on not only making up for the unusually low, drought-plagued reservoir pools heading into this weekend, a sturdy snowpack will keep that water coming as it melts off.

As of Friday afternoon, the Rogue Basin's snowpack remains at 120 percent of average, and the amount of water measured in that snow is at 94 percent of average.

Lost Creek Lake's surface level Friday was at 1,968 feet above sea level and two feet from full, according to Corps statistics. At Friday's level, it was listed as 94 percent full.

Applegate Lake, which is smaller and more narrow, was listed Friday with a surface level at 1,977 feet above sea level. That put it at 10 feet from full and at 86 percent full.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.