Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency, citing historic low levels of snow, shrinking rivers and water restrictions to farmers already in place. Authorities are expecting a $1.2 billion crop loss this year.
“We have some tough, challenging months ahead of us,” Inslee said in a statement. “We’re ready to bring support and relief to the hardest hit areas of the state. We’re going to do everything we can to get through this.”
According to the governor’s office, irrigation districts in the Yakima Basin, the state’s most productive farming region, have resorted to rationing in order to extend water supplies. In the Walla Walla region, the authorities are shifting water “from creek to creek” and even hauling the fish upstream to cooler water, in an effort to preserve the steelhead, Chinook and bull trout populations.
Last month, the US Geological Survey found that 78 percent of streams around Washington were running below normal and some were at record lows. The worst drought in a decade has the state’s Department of Natural Resources expecting an increase in wildfires as well.
“This drought is unlike any we’ve ever experienced,” said Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “Rain amounts have been normal but snow has been scarce. And we’re watching what little snow we have quickly disappear.”
Bellon added that forecasters were calling for a warm and dry summer, which would only increase the demand for water. “We are preparing for an intense wildfire season,” she said.
Read more: http://rt.com/usa/259153-washington-severe-drought-emergency/