LAKESIDE, Ore. — Tenmile Lakes near Lakeside, Oregon are at dangerously low levels, causing Coos County Commissioners to declare them to be in a state of emergency.
The lakes are at about four feet above sea level right now, which is the lowest it’s been since they began recording levels in 1952.
One boater experienced the difficulties of the low levels first-hand when he put his boat in on Wednesday afternoon.
“There’s no ramp left,” said boater Kevin Tennison. “The water is so low, it’s like as soon as you get in it, the ramp’s gone. The boat drops off, you can’t get in and out, especially with the bigger boats. It’s terrible.”
Coos County Commissioners declared a state of emergency, because of the effects it’s having on the local economy.
One marina owner says he’s lost about 20 percent of his boat slips.
“Especially after July. The business has dropped off significantly in the summer as the water levels have continued to drop,” said John Reiss, owner of Ringo’s Lakeside Marina.
He’s lucky. Others are completely closed down.
The solution could be to build a temporary dam, something a local group called Tenmile Grassroots has been pushing for.
“We’re not wanting to stop all water,” said Corrine Turner. “We’re basically wanting to hold water through the spring and summer, so that this doesn’t repeat itself.”
Commissioners are trying to work with state leaders and entities to make that happen, but Tenmile Grassroots said it’s about more than saving the local economy.
“We start to see things like massive die-offs, we start to see critical salmon habitats that are completely dry. And those are probably the most important things we can change right now, is to go ahead and save salmon habitat, to save bass-rearing habitat,” said Charles Russell.
The group wants to thank the commissioners for their part in helping the lakes and city during this time of crisis, and “being the leaders Coos County needs right now.”