An EWEB-supported program provides firewood for people affected by the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire. The McKenzie Firewood program was developed by Pure Water Partners (PWP) in 2021.Find Out More
At EWEB, we do what we can to help others in need. That’s been the reality for several of our electric and water crews over the past few weeks as we’ve responded to mutual aid requests for storm response and drinking water restoration, locally, and out of state.Find Out More
EWEB has 800 miles of transmission and distribution lines transporting your drinking water underground throughout the city. It eventually comes out of your tap as delicious thirst-quenching water. But what goes into maintaining all those pipes? And what happens when one gets a leak? We went to find out.Find Out More
EWEB makes electric mobility available to anyhone though e-bike rebates, car sharing and grants for local organizations with electric mobility projects.Find Out More
Energy Efficiency tips to help you reduce your energy usage for National Cut your Energy Costs DayFind Out More
In response to a call for aid this week, EWEB’s water division jumped into action to assist the town of Mapleton after a leak in their water system left about 260 homes without running water.Find Out More
At Alton Baker Park this week, Eugene 4J elementary students bid farewell to baby salmon they’d raised from eggs in their classrooms this fall. The activity was part of the Salmon Education Program funded by EWEB grants.Find Out More
EWEB is developing a plan to ensure that Eugene has a sufficient supply of reliable, affordable and clean electricity in the decades ahead, and is inviting the community to participate in the process.Find Out More
EWEB has joined 10 other Western utilities are to help ensure clean energy resources will be adequate to serve the growing demand in the region, while also managing costs and maintaining reliability for customers.Find Out More
On a chilly November day, third graders from Adams Elementary School in Eugene learned about the lifecycle of native salmon on a field trip to Lake Creek near Triangle Lake. The field trips take place all month as part of a program funded by EWEB grants. EWEB dedicates a portion of customer rates to inspiring kids to explore the wonders of science and learn about watershed health, water quality, and emergency preparedness.Find Out More
Hundreds of landowners in the McKenzie River valley are working with EWEB to prevent future fires and protect the river by replanting burned properties and removing fuels like dead trees and underbrush.Find Out More
EWEB works with watershed researchers, forest management agencies and local non-profits to identify threats to our water supply and public health, prioritize watershed restoration activities and help with long-term community recovery.Find Out More
EWEB conducted a multi-agency spill drill on the Willamette River this week. The practice session was to help refresh and hone skills that will be essential to respond to an actual disaster involving an oil spill in the Willamette.Find Out More
EWEB’s Source Water Champions work year-round to protect our drinking water. They take water quality samples throughout the watershed, help our neighbors be better stewards, and coordinate multi-agency teams for restoration work and hazard mitigation.Find Out More
Local middle school students from around the area learned about the entire life cycle of salmon along the McKenzie River at Salmon Watch 2022, which was held at the EWEB spawning channel. The field trip took place during peak salmon spawning season, when fish that are at least two feet long are reaching the end of their journey from the ocean to their natal streams.Find Out More
June 23, 2021
By Adam Spencer, Communications Specialist
As this weekend brings a potential record-breaking heat wave, the "Extreme Drought" conditions will worsen for the Willamette Valley.
According to the US Drought Monitor, the entire State of Oregon is facing "Moderate Drought," with over 80% of Lane County in "Severe" or "Extreme Drought."
In Eugene, for the rainy season starting in October 2020, we are 28 inches short of our average rainfall.
Up in the mountains, precipitation at the McKenzie Pass tracked with the average until this spring's extremely dry April, according to the National Resources Conservation Service. We received a good snowpack, but that hot April melted the snow away, and the "Snow Water Equivalent" in the McKenzie has plunged below average, joining the previous three years (2018, 2019, and 2020) as below-average precipitation years to continue the drought.
At this time, however, EWEB does not anticipate that we will need to institute water rationing measures by the end of this summer.
In the McKenzie River Basin, we can actually count on years of stored water supply, thanks to the McKenzie's unique geology.
The McKenzie is born from the lava rocks of the "New Cascades." These volcanic mountains are young, geologically speaking, and their porous igneous rocks act as filters for the snow that falls on their slopes. It takes precipitation approximately 6-7 years to percolate through the mountains' natural lava rock filter, finally emerging as springs that become the McKenzie River.
Visitors to Clear Lake can see the McKenzie's crystal-clear water as it emerges from its multi-year cleanse. This mountain-sized filter also provides some of the cleanest drinking water in the nation for nearly 200,000 people in Eugene.
In fact, during peak water demand season in August, our intake at the Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant is pulling in just 2-3% of the total river volume, so even in drought years like this one the McKenzie is dependable.
Climate change will bring more droughts and more flooding alike, and we'll have to adjust. Global temperatures are rising, meaning we'll receive less precipitation as falling snow.
Warming temperatures will continue to fuel massive fluctuations in the jet stream as well, causing more frequent, pronounced swings in the El Niño Southern Oscillation. For the Pacific Northwest, both El Niño years (which bring warmer-than-average winters) and La Niña years (colder winters) bring in 2.5 inches more rain than average.
With the McKenzie's underground lava rock reservoirs, the wet years will help us through the dry ones, as above-average precipitation in 2017 and 2016 help abate our current drought. EWEB closely monitors the McKenzie watershed for drought concerns, floods, Harmful Algal Blooms, and other hazards.
If water levels ever start to get too low, we will first send a "Water Shortage Advisory" that asks for voluntary curtailment of water use. If water levels continue to decline, we'll issue a "Water Shortage Alert" that mandates water curtailment. Finally, we'll declare a "Water Shortage Emergency" that restricts water use strictly to culinary and sanitary needs.
Again, EWEB will not likely issue Water Shortage notices this year. Nevertheless, it's always good to get in the practice of using less water. The less water we use in Eugene means there's more cold McKenzie River water cooling down the Willamette for our native fish who require cold water to survive. Using less water is also a great way to save money!
To help our customers get into a water conservation mindset, we are launching "Water-Wise Wednesdays" to share tips, products, and life-hacks to remind us of ways we can do our part to reduce our water consumption.
Check in with us each week through the summer to learn about "Water Wise" techniques for your lawn and garden, positive practices in the home, low-flow toilets and other products that EWEB rewards you to buy and install, and more.
Our first "Water Wise" tip is for gardeners out there: With this record heat wave, make sure to water your lawn, gardens, and landscaping early in the morning or late in the evening. If you water during the heat of the day a lot of it will simply evaporate off. Watering in the morning or evening allows the water to settle in, drop down into the soils, and get to the roots, where plants need it most.
Check in next week for another Water-Wise Wednesday, and rest assured that we'll be watching the river and the forecast to make sure there's enough water for us all to enjoy.