Drought emergency issued for Grays Harbor/Pacific County

Grays Harbor and Pacific County are now included under a drought emergency declaration.

Gov. Jay Inslee had previously issued a declaration for Okanogan, Methow and Upper Yakima, saying that water supply shortages were projected.

As of this week, nearly half the state is now included under the emergency “due to worsened, poor water supply conditions” and “warmer and drier weather predictions through the summer”.

In a release, Gov. Inslee said, “Snow pack conditions are currently less than 50 percent of average for this time of year. Washington State Department of Ecology experts expect the warmer, drier weather will cause the already-diminished snow pack to melt more quickly, reducing water availability this summer when it is needed most for farms, communities and fish. Despite this past week’s rain, rainfall totals for the state remain below normal.”

24 watersheds are now added to the emergency drought declaration:

Chelan, Colville, Cowlitz, Deschutes, Elwha-Dungeness, Entiat, Grays-Elochoman, Kennedy-Goldsborough, Kettle, Lower Chehalis, Lower Skagit-Samish, Lower Yakima, Lyre-Hoko, Naches, Nooksack, Queets-Quinault, Quilcene-Snow, Skokomish-Dosewallips, Soleduc, Stillaguamish, Upper Chehalis, Upper Skagit, Wenatchee, and Willapa.

The governor announced the initial emergency drought declaration April 4 for the Methow, Okanogan and Upper Yakima basins.

“I appreciate Ecology’s work with partners around the state to prepare for drought and to position us to quickly react to those in need,” said Inslee. “As the climate continues to change, we must be proactive in taking steps to plan for those impacts.”

“The emergency declaration allows us to expedite emergency water right permitting and make funds available to government entities to address hardships caused by drought conditions,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon.

The 2019 Legislature appropriated $2 million for drought response. The release from Gov. Inslee says that ecology anticipates funding for public agencies for drought response will be available in early June.

Cost-share grants will be issued for emergency drought response projects that address the current drought hardship and can be completed during the drought emergency, such as:
  • Obtaining emergency water supplies, which could include construction of wells or interties, moving the water withdrawal location, trucking potable water.
  • Leasing water for instream or out of stream uses.
  • Implementing conservation programs or purchasing equipment which reduces water use.

There are two factors considered for any emergency drought declaration: Water supply conditions that are currently or projected to be at or below 75 percent of average, and a projection of undue hardships. The state last declared a drought emergency in 2015.

You can access several resources on Ecology’s website at ecology.wa.gov/drought. You can also report drought-related conditions to the National Drought Mitigation Center.