drought

When it comes to watering your lawn during drought and wildfire season, what’s the sweet spot between water conservation and fire hazard?

As drought conditions worsen across the state, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order Tuesday to help conserve water.

We're not that emerald of a city anymore with the recent drought conditions.
Flickr Photo/Jeff Youngstrom (CC BY NC 2.0)

Extremely dry weather and rising use have got the Puget Sound region’s cities thinking seriously about a water shortage later this year.

Seattle, Tacoma and Everett said Monday that they're activating the first stage of water shortage response plans.

Distressed Trees Prompt Early Watering Reminder

Jul 24, 2015

With high temperatures around state, the Oregon Department of Forestry is reminding people to water their trees.

Signs of distressed trees include leaves that are curling, wilting or appear scorched.

Cynthia Orlando, an ODF spokesperson, said deep watering is essential.

"Using a soaker hose and letting the water get down deep on all sides of the tree so that it soaks all the way down into the soil," she said. Additionally, she recommended putting out mulch to help retain moisture and maintain soil temperatures.

Farms and fish aren’t the only ones suffering from Northwest drought conditions. So are trees and plants on Washington’s 435-acre Capitol campus.

Washington is getting less rain than Phoenix, Arizona, state Ecology Danager Maia Bellon said during a press conference in Lacey Friday.

Oregon and Washington officials are curtailing fishing starting Saturday on many of the states' rivers in hope of helping salmon, trout and steelhead survive drought conditions.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is imposing restrictions on 30 of the state's rivers. On some waterways it will be a complete closures; on others the prohibition takes effect from 2 p.m. until midnight.

The hottest June on record for Oregon and Washington came on the heels an unusually warm winter and spring. Now, Northwest rivers are running at or near all-time lows and cities with water reserves are drawing them down.

Some towns have already issued water advisories and asked residents to cut back voluntarily. Even the cities with lots of water, like Portland and Seattle, are finding they have less to work with.

With more than half of Oregon in a drought emergency, Governor Kate Brown said state agencies can help conserve water for the rest of the state.

A Central Washington Water Project Gets Senate Hearing

Jul 8, 2015

A warming climate is making water more scarce in places that rely on runoff from mountain snowpack -- places like the Yakima River basin in Central Washington.

That’s why a group of about 20 stakeholders have come together to develop a plan to help manage water in this agricultural center. Those stakeholders traditionally haven’t gotten along: environmentalists, farmers, the Yakama Nation tribal leaders, and government officials.

Burned cedars and salal at a property in Woodway, Washington, which has had a ban on fireworks for years.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

The governor’s office says there will be no state ban on fireworks. And local governments won’t be given authority to issue their own bans.

That’s because state law doesn’t permit it. But state law never imagined a heat wave like this to start the summer.

Cities in drought-plagued California took water conservation seriously in May. Residential water use went down by 28.9 percent in May, according to a press release from the State Water Resources Control Board.

This year’s drought is affecting Washington in all kinds of ways. It’s even threatening to make a potential government shutdown more painful. That would happen on July 1 unless a budget agreement is reached.

Jeff Marti, the Washington Department of Ecology’s drought coordinator, says the state won’t be able to grant emergency permits to access water if your well dries up or if river levels drop so low that your pipes no longer reach the water.

Travel up and down California farm country, the Central Valley, and you hardly hear people lamenting the lack of rain or how dry this past winter was. What you hear, from the agriculture industry and many local and national politicians, are sentiments like those expressed by Rep. Devin Nunes:

"Well, what I always like to say is that this is a man-made drought created by government," the Central Valley Republican says.

All signs are pointing to a strong El Niño developing by this fall according to an update from the National Weather Service Thursday.

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