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Water Quantity and Quality

Upper Deschutes River

Mirror Pond in the town of Bend

Mirror Pond in the town of Bend
(Oregon State University Archives)

The Upper Deschutes River flows from the Wickiup Reservoir near Crescent Lake to the town of Bend in Deschutes County. The Upper Deshutes flows through two reservoirs, the Wickiup and the Crane Prairie, on its way to Bend. The reservoirs store water used for irrigation, and cause downstream flows to be high in the summer and low in the winter. While irrigation diversions are necessary to sustain crops and livestock in the surrounding area, this altered streamflow also causes bank erosion and strsses riparian ecosystems along the river. Soil eroded from the banks is deposited in Mirror Pond in Bend, which is at risk of turning into mudflats during late summer and fall, raising aesthetic issues for the community. Several organizations have come together to address this issue, including the Deschutes River Conservancy, the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, and the Mirror Pond Technical Committee in Bend.

The Deschutes River Conservancy has collaborated with landowners and management agencies to maintain a better balance between irrigation season water leases, transfers, and conservation with winter water storage releases. The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council is also working to restore a more natural streamflow, and have several goals for the watershed. These goals include the following: protecting and restoring healthy stream corridors, restoring wetlands, in-stream habitat, and riparian and floodplain areas, managing stormwater to reduce pollutant inputs into the river, and restoring fish passages at existing dams. The Mirror Pond Technical Committee, formed in 2004, is collaborating with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council to reduce and prevent excess sedimentation into the pond.


Deschutes River Conservancy. Background information on the Upper Deschutes River.

City of Bend Mirror Pond Management Board. Overview of the sedimentation problem in Mirror Pond and links to recommendations.

Authored by Caitlin Bell, Staff, Oregon Explorer