Business & economy

Water outlook in Malheur County remains bleak despite spate of recent storms

The early morning sun shines across Lake Owyhee near the Owyhee Dam in June. Area reservoirs, like the Owyhee, are showing low water levels but a robust winter weather pattern could help with the long-term water outlook. (The Enterprise/ANGELINA KATSANIS).

VALE – The new year is starting out with a shortage of water critical for the region’s agriculture industry, and officials are unsure if enough snow will amass to catch up.

Malheur County’s farms and ranches rely on seasonal snowpack and runoff to boost reservoir levels.

The four main local reservoirs – Warm Springs, Beulah, Bully Creek and Owyhee – that propel the agriculture industry in the spring are now either nearly empty or low in terms of water storage.

As of last week, the Owyhee Reservoir was 16% of capacity while Bully . . .