Washington Department of Ecology Offering Drought Relief Grants

A total of $16 million is available thanks to an appropriation by the state Legislature.

The Washington Department of Ecology announced $16 million in drought relief money is now available across the state as hardships from water shortages are mounting for farms and fish. Using a $16 million appropriation from the state Legislature, the agency is accepting grant applications for public projects to help relieve hardships arising from the drought; the money can be used over the next two years to help protect public health and safety from effects of the drought and reduce economic or environmental impacts from water shortages.

"Our communities, farms, and fish are quite literally feeling the heat from this drought," said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. "We now have money and a grant program in place to fund projects that can bring immediate and even long-term relief."

Ecology reports the grants may be used to:

  • Modify an existing water source or deepen an existing groundwater well
  • Develop an emergency or alternate water source
  • Purchase or lease water or water rights to be used during the drought
  • Construct an emergency intertie or connection to another approved public water supply
  • Build transmission pipelines, diversion structures, or storage devices and acquire pumps and accessories for moving water
  • Detect and repair leaks
  • Line water canals
  • Implement emergency water conservation programs and education programs to alleviate hardships from water shortages

Grants will require 50 percent matching funds from applicants with one exception: No matching funds are required for drinking water supply projects that serve a population of less than 25,000 with households that have 80 percent or less of the statewide mean income.

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought May 15, 2015, after the state's snowpack had fallen to less than 20 percent of normal.

According to the agency's recently reports, hot, dry weather is affecting stream flows. Statewide, temperatures are running 20 degrees above normal and western Washington has had record low precipitation since April. As of July 10, more than 80 percent of Washington state's rivers and streams are running at below 10 percent of normal flows.