Warm, dry weather impacting Washington’s water supply – resources to help you prepare

dry irrigation

Post updated: June 2016 – Conditions in our state don’t meet the legal threshold to declare a drought emergency, but there are several regions where water supply is a concern.  Dry, warm conditions are impacting fish, agriculture, and may increase wildfire risk.

Concerned about water supply issues in your area? Contact your local conservation district. Conservation districts offer resources and services that can help you address water supply issues and associated wildfire risk. They also are connected to other local, regional, and state water supply assistance programs, making them a local clearinghouse of information. Each of Washington’s 39 counties is represented by at least one conservation district — find yours using the Conservation District Directory.

What is the status of Washington’s water supply?

What’s causing the decrease in water supply?

  • It’s been warmer and drier than usual. April/May was 4.9 degrees above normal, and average precipitation was 1.5 inches below normal.
  • There was a record drop in snowpack from 111 percent of average on April 1 to 31 percent on June 16.

What can I do to conserve water now?

For irrigators and farmers:

  • Irrigation Efficiencies Program (IEP): Helps landowners save water and restore in-stream flows for fish in 16 critical basins. Administered locally by conservation districts and the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC), the program offers financial incentives – up to 85 percent of total project costs – to landowners willing to install irrigation systems that save water. The water saved helps increase stream flow in tributaries where ESA (Endangered Species Act)-listed species will benefit. Learn more: Contact Jon Culp (509-385-7509), SCC water resources program manager. (Program funding/administration also provided by Department of Ecology)
  • Minimize the effects of drought on your operation (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service – from Oregon office, but most information is relevant for Washington)

Around your home:

What wildfire prevention / recovery resources are available?

Where do I report water supply-related fish passage issues?

  • Contact Teresa Scott (360-902-2713), water resource policy coordinator at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, if you see tributaries or rivers where low water supply has impacted fish passage. Warm, dry conditions will deplete stream flows in some areas, which may present barriers to migrating fish due to stream blockages or limited or no water.

Who is monitoring the water supply?

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