Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

T he spigot that pours water into one of Baker County’s biggest irrigation reservoirs might be a trickle this spring compared with last year’s torrent due to a skimpy snowpack.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Phillips Reservoir, on the Powder River about 17 miles southwest of Baker City, is already nearly half full.

This situation is pretty much the opposite of what prevailed one year ago.

In the first week of February 2017, the reservoir was close to empty, its volume at less than 7 percent of capacity.

But the snowpack in the mountains above the reservoir was deeper than usual.

And it got deeper through the rest of winter and into the early spring of 2017.

In the end, the reservoir reached about 99 percent of capacity in June 2017 — the most water it has held since 2011.

This was a boon for farmers do wnstream, who rely on the reservoir to irrigate more than 30,000 acres.

But it also meant that Phillips still had quite a bit of water even after the irrigation season ended in late summer.

“It’s a blessing,” said Jeff Colton, manager of the Baker Valley Irrigation District, which oversees the reservoir. “It’ll probably save us this year.”

See more in the Feb. 7, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.