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Water Quality in Willow Creek Reservoir near Heppner, OR

image: blue-green_algae_bloom_at_WillowCkRes.jpg
Blue-green algae bloom at
Willow Creek Reservoir

(Photo by C. Smith, 14-May-2015)
Willow Creek Reservoir, in Heppner, Oregon, is a man-made reservoir impounded by Willow Creek Dam. The dam was built to help control the risk of flooding, and the reservoir is used for recreation. Blue-green algae blooms tend to occur in Willow Creek Reservoir during the spring through fall seasons. These blue-green algae blooms can be a nuisance, and the algae have the potential to produce toxins that can be a hazard to water-contact recreation.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), monitored water quality at Willow Creek Reservoir in 2015 and 2016 using a variety of techniques, including the use of cameras and multiparameter water-quality instruments to collect data.

The goals of the monitoring are to study and understand the dynamics of the blue-green algae blooms in this water body, and to provide data and information that allows the public and resource managers to be informed about water-quality and bloom conditions in the reservoir. Data collected in 2015 showed that the algal blooms can accumulate and dissipate very quickly. A camera was deployed at Willow Creek Dam in 2015 and 2016, and it collected a series of five images (positions 1-5) of the lake surface near the dam every 15 minutes during daylight hours. The images were uploaded to this public website in near real-time, allowing interested people to view the current reservoir conditions.

The locations of the camera and the five camera image positions are shown in the map below. The location of the camera on the dam is indicated by the five-pointed star, and the numbered rectangles indicate the locations of the images taken by the camera. Position number 1 is photographed first, followed by position number 2, and so forth.

camera positions diagram
Background image of NW corner of Willow Creek Reservoir from Google Maps.

Access the 2016 photographs here.


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