(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order 21-07 today, declaring a drought in Klamath County, and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region. This is the first drought declaration of 2021.
“The Klamath Basin faces one of the most difficult water years in recent memory. Moving forward, we must look for long-term solutions to the underlying issue in Klamath and many other Oregon counties: there is too little water to go around, and as the climate changes we are experiencing hotter, drier summers,” said Governor Brown. “After last year’s wildfire season, we are closely monitoring drought conditions in the Klamath Basin and statewide.”
“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. I am confident that the collaborative spirit and ingenuity of the people in Klamath will provide lasting solutions.”
As of March 8, the snow-water equivalent in Klamath County was 77 percent of a normal water year, and forecasted water conditions are not expected to improve. Drought, severe weather conditions, and the upcoming fire season pose significant threats to the local economy, agriculture and livestock, natural resources, and recreation in Klamath County.
Governor Brown’s drought declaration unlocks a number of drought-related emergency tools for water users, including assistance to local water users. Drought declarations also allow 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. More information is available at Oregon Drought Watch.
As state and local officials coordinate with federal partners, conditions will be closely monitored by the state’s natural resource and public safety agencies, including the Oregon Water Resources Department and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
The Drought Declaration Process Requests for drought declarations typically go through a three-part process before securing a state drought declaration from the Governor. On March 9, the Klamath County Commission declared a drought emergency due to low snowpack, low precipitation, low streamflows and warmer than normal temperature, and a state drought declaration was requested. State officials subsequently met, and the Oregon Drought Readiness Council ultimately recommended that the Governor issue a drought declaration to provide critical resources to confront current water conditions and future climatic forecasts.