From a water and snow perspective, 2018 started off with so much promise, but much of that promise has disappeared. Jeff Marti with the Washington Department of Ecology says thanks to a warm May, much of the area snowpack was tapped earlier than expected. Add on top of that, several dry months for most of the Northwest, and water resources are strained.
So, will 2018 be a drought year?
Marti says it’s still too early to tell. He said for a region to be under a drought, from the DOE’s point of view, the area need to receive 75% of its normal water supply and a potential for a hardship due to that lack of water.
“By hardship I mean, severe economic pain for agriculture users, fish impacts and potentially even a shortage of water for public drinking water.”
While not in the grasp of a 2015 type drought, Marti says there are a lot of things growers, and even homeowners can do to help. He said first off, stay vigilant and be good stewards of your water supply.
“Take actions now so you can make it stretch through the summer and keep your ear to the news for more information from the Department of Ecology. There are some areas of the state where we are out curtailing water rights.”
In June, the Yakima Basin had junior water rights reduced slightly. However, those figures were recently improved. Marti noted that Columbia River Irrigators are in good shape, and junior water rights have not been negatively impacted.
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