Low water at reservoir reflects prolonged dry spell in the area

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The yellow-flowered American Lotus that you normally see blooming in masses above the water at Durham Cove on the north end of Marion Reservoir aren’t there this year.

Instead, great mud flats extend hundreds of feet beyond the water’s edge to where the normal pool level would be at bankside.

Traci Robb, park ranger, said the water level has definitely dipped to the lowest level of the last several years as the dry weather continues.

It may be the worst drought year since the reservoir was built, she added.

Robb said there is no danger of any water disruption due to drought for Hillsboro and Marion.

She said release of water into the Cottonwood River from the reservoir always is maintained for river movement, but there are no larger releases planned for communities downstream.

Water also is released continually from a “low flow tube” at the spillway as normal maintenance.

“This also is a pretty shallow lake, so the results of dry weather show quickly,” she said.

Reservoirs with deep water go longer before the public starts noticing the drops.

There is no danger due to drought to the lake at this time, Robb said, adding, “We just hope for fall rains to replenish it.”

Head Park Ranger Terry Holt said the lake slowly keeps dropping. It was 2.5 feet below conservation level last week and 2.6 feet below this week.

Although the disappearance of lotus often is linked by speculation to the dry weather, Holt said rangers talking about it have decided nobody really knows why the colonies of plants on rhizomes that started from a single seed go away.

They just disappear from one cove after being there for years, and then appear again growing in another cove.

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