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2010 Drought

STORYMAP Washington Drought Response     [NOTE: New version web browser required to view]

Last revised: May 22, 2015

Current Conditions:

Updated! Mid-May 2015 Total Water Supply Available (TWSA) forecast - The Bureau of Reclamation's mid-May 2015 Total Water Supply Available forecast for the Yakima Basin indicates a full water supply for senior water rights during the 2015 irrigation season, but an estimated 44% percent supply for junior water rights.  Reclamation will issue water supply forecasts monthly or as needed at least through July.

Snowpack statewide is currently at about 15 percent of normal, ten percent lower than when the last statewide drought was declared in Washington in 2005.

Governor declares statewide drought emergency

Gov Jay Inslee on May 15, 2015, declared a statewide drought emergency.   The declaration comes after the governor’s Emergency Water Executive Committee determined that 48 of 62 watersheds in Washington have water supplies of 75 percent of normal or below and water users are experiencing hardships from water shortages or are expected to experience hardships.

Washington has been in a snowpack drought since the governor’s first drought declaration on March 13 for the Yakima and Walla Walla basins and the Dungeness basin on the Olympic Peninsula.

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 streams.  This year run-off from snowmelt for the period April through September is projected to be the lowest on record in the past 64 years.

Drought Response:
Ecology working to provide drought relief where needed

Ecology has requested just more than $9.5 million from the Legislature for drought relief but began its drought relief work with existing funds immediately after Gov Inslee’s first drought declaration on March 13, 2015.  See 2015 Drought Response

Ecology has proposed using the drought relief money in the following ways:

  • $3.896 million for public agricultural irrigation projects water leasing and/ or acquisition
  • $2 million to municipal water utilities for emergency drought funding.
  • $1.187 million to WDFW for salmon and trout protection.
  • $2.2 million for Yakima emergency well pumping mitigation.
  • $187,000 to hire temporary state staff to respond to the drought emergency.
  • $100,000 Stream Flow Monitoring
  • $25,000 Conservation Education
TOTAL (est.) = $9.595 million

Issues and drought relief work in Ecology’s four 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.

For information on current and future impacts from water shortages and Ecology’s drought relief by region, view:

Emergency Drought Applications

Where a drought emergency has been declared, Ecology is authorized to issue emergency drought permits. See Emergency Drought Applications.

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

La conservación del agua: Comienza contigo

Frequently Asked Questions on Drought Preparations

Water Supply Availability Committee (WSAC)  May 8 meeting information

Washington Water Supply Information - data portal

Drought Insurance Program (DIP) "The legislature tasked OCR with reducing drought risk for interruptible water users"