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Oregon Drought Watch
July 23, 2015

BY PETER MOHR 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has recently declared drought emergencies in four additional Oregon counties due to drought, low snow pack levels, and low water conditions.  According to a recent statement by Governor Brown, Oregon is experiencing the lowest snowpack level statewide on record and the third warmest average temperature from January to May in the past 121 years.  With the recent addition of Curry, Hood River, Sherman, and Union Counties, 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties are officially in a state of drought emergency.
 
As the county requests continue to come in, the Oregon Drought Council reviews current water conditions, future climatic forecasts, and the effects of water shortages on local economies.   The other counties already under drought declarations issued earlier in the year are: Baker, Crook, Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Wasco, and Wheeler.  By comparison, in 2014, a total of only nine counties were under drought emergencies.
 
The Governor's drought declarations allow some increased flexibility in how water may be managed to ensure that limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible.  However, such additional flexibility alone will not relieve most users of their need to be more creative in how they manage their water and water rights given the increasing uncertainty in temperature and precipitation patterns.    
 



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