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Water Quantity and Quality

Deschutes Basin Rivers

The Deschutes Basin is the second largest watershed in Oregon, covering more than 10,000 square miles. The Deschutes River is a major tributary of the Columbia River. It flows north through an arid high desert landscape, originating in the Little Lava Lake in the Cascade Mountains. Much of the geography of the basin has been shaped by volcanism, from the young cinder cones and pumice deposits of the Cascades to the massive Columbia River basalts in the canyons of the lower river.

The Deschutes Basin can be divided into three sections including the Lower Deschutes, that empties into the Middle Columbia, the Middle Deschutes and the Upper Deschutes. At the Lake Billy Chinook reservoir, its major tributaries, the Crooked River and Metolius Rivers join the Deschutes.