BEND, Ore. (AP) -- Irrigation could be restricted on about 22,000 acres in Central Oregon this summer if a dry season continues for users who draw their water from the Crooked River.

The Bend Bulletin reports ( ) users with older water rights will receive water to irrigate their fields, while users with less-senior rights may have to do without.

An up-and-down year for snowfall means some areas have about 40 percent of their usual capacity.

Not all the news is grim. The combined Deschutes-Crooked River drainage basins stood at 83 percent of their long-term historic average on Thursday.

Central Oregon Irrigation District manager Steve Johnson said water limitations could come into effect if water cannot be stored behind the Bowman Dam by the end of spring.

Johnson, however, remains optimistic that a drier winter will precede a rainy spring.

"Things are decent. We're a little below average on total precipitation and snowpack, but we're close," Johnson said. "If the weather keeps coming like it has this week, we're going to be fine."

Oregon Snow Survey Program director Jon Lea said weather patterns since last October -- the traditional start of the "water year" -- have been unusual.

Snow accumulation through early December was largely in keeping with past trends, he said, then flat-lined though mid-January. Heavy snowfall returned though the end of the month and then trailed off again, picking up in late February in a trend that has continued though the present.

Last year was one of the wettest winters on record in Central Oregon, with the overall snowpack topping out in mid-April at more than 60 percent above what is now on the ground.

The overall snowpack typically peaks around April 1, just before local water managers open up the canals and begin diverting the flow to water users.


Information from: The Bulletin,

Copyright 2012 The AP.

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