STORYMAP Washington Drought Response [NOTE: New version web browser required to view]
Last revised: August 1, 2015
State puts funds to work relieving drought hardships
The Washington State Legislature has approved $16 million in funding for drought relief work in 2015-17 biennium. The funding will help ensure reliable public water supplies, augment water supplies for farmers and provide water to support stream flows for fish. A portion of the money will allow Ecology to provide grants to state and federal agencies, cities, counties, other political subdivisions and some Indian tribes for projects such as developing alternative water resources, purchasing or leasing water or water rights and building water transmission pipelines. For more information see:
Hot, dry weather impacting stream temperatures and flows
Hot, dry weather is impacting stream flows. Statewide, temperatures are running 7 degrees above normal resulting in increased water temperatures putting fish at risk for death and disease. Since April precipitation statewide has only been 51 percent of normal. As of July 24, more than 80 percent of Washington’s rivers and streams are running at below normal or record low flows.
High temperatures, no rain = more wildfires
The frequency and intensity of wildfires is expected to increase with the hot temperatures and little to no precipitation predicted for the summer of 2015.
Issues and drought relief work in Ecology’s four regions
Governor. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought on May 15, 2015. Ecology is working on drought relief in river basins in all four of Ecology’s regions. Ecology’s drought relief work has been focused on relieving hardships for farmers facing water shortages and working with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife in taking action now to prevent fish passage problems resulting from low stream flows.
Emergency Drought Applications
Ecology is authorized to issue emergency drought permits. Contact the closest regional office.
Shoreline Permitting for Drought Emergency Projects
The 2015 drought has led to formal drought declarations affecting much of Washington State. Drought conditions may trigger emergency work to secure vital water supplies and sustain fish passage. By state statute, drought-related emergency work requires expedited permit and approval processes by both local governments and state agencies.
This web page describes legal authorization and requirements for expedited permits and exemptions under the Shoreline Management Act (SMA) and related statutes.
Federal Drought Declaration
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 18 counties in Washington State as natural disaster areas because of the statewide drought. Farmers in these counties will now be eligible for low interest emergency loans to help defray crop and business losses incurred because of the drought. Eligible counties are: Adams, Benton, Columbia, Douglas, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, King, Klickitat, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pierce, Skamania, Walla Walla, Whitman and Yakima.
Washington Water Exchange
Ecology has set up the Washington Water Exchange as a service to help water users locate or sell water available for transfer. See Washington Water Exchange.
Forecasts and water supply information
Additional drought information
Water Conservation: It all starts with you
Water Supply Availability Committee (WSAC) July 9 meeting materials
Washington Water Supply Information - data portal
PAST DROUGHT EVENTS
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