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UPDATE: Creek watch continues

McKay Reservoir (MCB photo by Butch Thurman)

The following is a news release from the city of Pendleton:

The city of Pendleton and the Bureau of Reclamation have been meeting throughout the day to discuss current levels at the reservoir and weather forecasts.

City Staff put boots on the ground and did an assessment of the water flows through McKay Creek area at the current release of 800 cubic feet per second.

The City supports increasing the flows to 1200 cfs which will increase storage of the storms in the forecast and will monitor these flows throughout today. Utilizing drone footage of the last incident, changes to the creek bed and the excavation to widen the creek done recently near Community Park, creek water will not reach houses.

We will be working with the Bureau throughout the weekend to monitor property impacts.

It is possible residents will see some water levels reach their yards and perhaps groundwater will effect basements.

If you have questions or concerns please phone Donna Biggerstaff at the City of Pendleton at 541-966-0220. After hours and on weekends the contact number is 541-276-0855.


The following is a news release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

PENDLETON, Ore. – With the National Weather Service Flood Watch in effect for the Pendleton area and significant rainfall expected over the weekend, the Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the National Weather Service, is closely monitoring weather conditions that inform the reservoir operations at McKay Dam and Reservoir.

On May 16, 2019, the Bureau of Reclamation increased releases to 500 cubic feet per second out of McKay Dam. These releases were coordinated with the downstream community with the intent of creating more storage space to accommodate incoming flows and to manage flood risk. The facility is operating as expected, and the dam is safe.

Releases will increase throughout today to 1,200 cfs by 3:00 pm in an effort to save space in the reservoir. As additional precipitation enters the system, flows may need to be adjusted over the weekend. Reclamation will continue to work closely with Umatilla County and City of Pendleton as conditions develop over the next few days.

Reclamation officials are advising the public to be aware of the potential danger associated with McKay Creek flows. The water is cold and can be deep and fast in various locations. Extreme caution should be used near the river banks.

“We take our responsibility to safely operate our facility seriously, and are committed to remaining open and transparent,” said Umatilla Field Office Manager Sean Kimbrel. “We are in close coordination with Umatilla County, the city of Pendleton, and the National Weather Service.”

McKay Reservoir is nearing a normal capacity of 65,500 acre-feet; however, an additional 6,000 af of storage is available for flood control purposes. The additional 6,000 af of storage is not shown on Reclamation’s Hydromet site.

Weather forecasts can be uncertain and change over time. Reclamation and the National Weather Service will continue to closely monitor conditions during this rain event.

For real-time McKay Creek flow information from McKay Dam, visit


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