It’s Completely Official: Drought Declared in 12 Washington Counties
The state of Washington is facing a drought emergency in 12 counties, including Benton and Yakima Counties.
Drought has been declared by the Department of Ecology in parts of Skagit, Whatcom, Clallam, Kittitas, Yakima, Snohomish, Jefferson, Walla Walla, Columbia, Okanogan, Benton, and Klickitat counties.
The Kennewick Irrigation District reports that there are currently NO restrictions on water use for customers.
“This drought is already harming Washington communities, businesses and farms, and it’s another sign of the damage that climate change is causing to our state," said Laura Watson, Ecology's director. "Today's drought declaration will help to rapidly deliver relief to these areas, but we need to also be taking steps to manage water wisely and prepare for a drier future."
The forecast shows warm, dry conditions continuing through October.
"Climate change is making warm, dry summers more frequent, and droughts more severe," said Ria Berns, manager of Ecology's Water Resources program. "What we're seeing this year is likely a sign of things to come."
Drought is declared in Washington when there's less than 75% of normal water supply and risk of undue hardship. In Walla Walla there are reports that parts of the watershed have gone completely dry. Crop losses were reported by the Washington State Conservation Commission.
Declaring a drought emergency allows Ecology to process emergency water right permits and transfers. New legislation passed this spring also makes $3 million in emergency drought funds available as grants to support communities, irrigation districts, Tribes and other public entities facing hardships.