Department of Ecology News Release - July 13, 2015

$16 million to help relieve drought hardships statewide

OLYMPIA – Drought relief money is now available across the state as hardships from water shortages really begin to mount for farms and fish.

With a $16 million appropriation from the Legislature, the Washington Department of Ecology is accepting grant applications for public projects to help relieve hardships arising from the drought. These funds can be used over the next two years to help protect public health and safety from effects of the drought, and reduce economic or environmental impacts from water shortages.

“Our communities, farms and fish are quite literally feeling the heat from this drought,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “We now have money and a grant program in place to fund projects that can bring immediate and even long-term relief.”

The drought funding will help support projects that ensure reliable public water supplies, augment water supplies for farmers, and rescue or preserve fish runs in streams.

Director Bellon signed a drought emergency funding rule to make grant money available to public entities such as cities, public utilities and irrigation districts.

Grants may be used to:

Grants will require 50 percent matching funds from applicants with one exception: No matching funds are required for drinking water supply projects that serve a population of less than 25,000 with households that have 80 percent or less of the statewide mean income.

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought May 15, 2015, after the state’s snowpack declined to less than 20 percent of normal. In a typical year, runoff from melting snowpack sustains rivers and streams that provide a water supply for communities, irrigators and fish habitat. This year, runoff from snowpack disappeared in June and currently 83 percent of the state’s streams and rivers are running at below normal or record low flows.

Unusually warm and dry weather have compounded the effects of the early snowpack melt-off in almost all parts of the state.

Application forms and further information on qualifications for drought relief grants are available on Ecology’s website: 2015 Drought Emergency Grant Program.

Contact:

Dan Partridge, communications, dan.partridge@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-7139