Since you asked: It would take centuries to drink up Crater Lake – May 6, 2005

Since you asked: It would take centuries to drink up Crater Lake

Mail Tribune

Medford, Oregon
May 6, 2005

My daughter would like to know, in case the city of Medford ran out of water from other sources, how long it would take to drink and use all of the water in Crater Lake.

— Beverly F, Medford

We should warn you that people can get hurt when journalists attempt math, Beverly. So, stand back.

You must also keep in mind the lake is the dazzling jewel of Oregon’s only national park, drawing visitors the world over. Not a drop of that crystal-clear water is ever going to be drained from the lake that will be on the new Oregon quarter to be released next month.

But we decided to humor your daughter — and ourselves — by trying to do the math.

Given that the lake covers 13,139 acres and is an average 1,148 feet deep, we figure there are 15,083,572 acre-feet of water in the lake.

True, that doesn’t include fluctuations. Don’t get picky.

At the risk of drowning you in numbers, we then multiplied the number of gallons in an acre-foot (325,851.4) with the lake’s acre feet to come up with 4,915,003,053,200.8 gallons.

That’s a nice, round 4.9 trillion gallons.

Migraine setting in, we then called Larry Rains, manager of the Medford Water Commission, to find out how much water we use. Roughly 23 million gallons a day, he said.

That comes to about 8,395,000,000 gallons annually by our headaching calculations, or 8.4 billion.

Not including recharge from annual precipitation, the lake could provide the current population in Medford with water for more than 585½ years.

We are going to lie down now, thank you very much.

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