Updated: March 30, 2015
Drought Declared in three regions - Ecology prepares for drought response
Governor Jay Inslee declared a drought on March 13 in three regions of Washington state. This will open up funding opportunities to address hardships from drought conditions in areas of the state experiencing record low snowpack.
Snowpack is like a frozen reservoir for river basins, in a typical year accumulating over the winter and slowly melting through the spring and summer providing a water supply for rivers and stream. Currently snowpack statewide is 22 percent of normal and the forecast calls for little to no snowfall into the spring and warmer-than-normal temperatures through the summer.
Drought relief work begins
Ecology is beginning its drought-relief work in the three regions where drought has been declared. We provide funding to lease water rights for irrigators and to boost stream flows for fish. We also provide technical expertise and grants for drilling emergency wells and deepening existing wells.
Yakima River Basin
Drought Declaration Regions:
Forecasts and water supply information
Drought declaration process
State law allows Ecology to declare a drought emergency if we determine that all or part of a geographical area is suffering from drought conditions. This is done with the written approval of the Governor, acting under the advice of the Water Supply Availability Committee and the state Executive Water Emergency Committee.
Unlike most states, Washington has a legal definition of drought. It requires that two conditions be met and it differs from the drought rating scale applied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The two conditions are:
Once Ecology declares a drought at the direction of the Governor, we can provide drought relief funding for those experiencing hardships and to boost stream flows for fish.
Additional drought and water supply information
Water Conservation: It all starts with you
Water Supply Availability Committee (WSAC) - March 2015 Meeting agenda, summary and presentations
Washington Water Supply Information - data portal
Drought Insurance Program (DIP) "The legislature tasked OCR with reducing drought risk for interruptible water users"
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