Drought Declaration Signed for Klamath County, Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown's news release said at the end of February, the snow-water equivalent in Klamath County was 40 percent of a normal water year, and forecasted water conditions are not expected to improve. Drought, severe weather conditions, and the upcoming fire season are significant threats to the local economy, agriculture and livestock, natural resources, and recreation in the county.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown visited Klamath Falls on March 13 to sign an executive order declaring a drought in Klamath County and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region. She met with Klamath County officials, tribal members, and water users to discuss options for immediate drought relief, and while Brown committed the state to a locally supported, comprehensive resolution of conflicts over water and land in the Klamath Basin, she asked federal officials to commit to this, as well.

"We know 2018 is shaping up to be a very difficult year for the Klamath Basin, and we're closely monitoring drought conditions here and statewide," she said. "I am committed to doing everything possible to make state resources available to provide immediate relief and assistance to water users throughout Klamath County. As we brace for another record-breaking drought year, collaborating with our federal partners will also be critical as we work towards locally supported, long-term solutions."

Her office's news release said at the end of February, the snow-water equivalent in Klamath County was 40 percent of a normal water year, and forecasted water conditions are not expected to improve. As a result, drought, severe weather conditions, and the upcoming fire season are significant threats to the local economy, agriculture and livestock, natural resources, and recreation in the county.

Her declaration makes available several drought-related emergency tools for water users, including assistance to local water users, and allows the Water Resources Department to expedite review processes and reduce fee schedules. Declarations are intended to be short-term emergency authorizations to address water supply challenges.

The release said a request for federal assistance has been made and is supported by members of Oregon's congressional delegation. Interior Department Deputy Commissioner of Reclamation Alan Mikkelsen attended the meeting and committed federal assistance to the Klamath Basin, it said.

On Feb. 20, the Klamath County Commission had declared a drought emergency due to low snowpack, low precipitation, low streamflows, and warmer-than-normal temperature, asking for a state drought declaration. State officials subsequently met and the Oregon Drought Readiness Council recommended that the governor's drought declaration will provide a critical tool to confront current water conditions and future climate forecasts.

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