BEND, OR -- After hearing about water levels and weather forecasts at Wednesday’s meeting, Deschutes County Commissioners declared a state of emergency and voted to request a State Declaration of Drought Emergency.
Deschutes Basin Water Master Jeremy Griffin laid out the conditions, “It took several drought years to get us in this situation. It’s going to take several above average snowpack and precipitation years to get us out of it. I’m expecting Wickiup to fill to about 130,000-acre feet, which is one of the lowest years. The last couple have rivaled that.” Griffin told the commissioners this year’s snowpack is not enough to make an impact, “It’s been a long time with not a lot of above average. Historically we get above years and we get below average and you could weather that storm, but this has been a lot years that we’ve been talking drought. It’s going to take a lot of wet years to get out of it.”
In agreeing with fellow commissioners Tony Debone and Patti Adair, Phil Chang said irrigation users need Disaster Relief, “That’s, in my mind, the primary reason we’re voting on this today. It doesn’t allow us to address some of the broader issues around water supply for all different kinds of users in the basin, but it does provide a little bit of flexibility, and a little bit of relief for our farmers.”
It’s the fourth straight year Deschutes County has asked for a drought emergency declaration. A significant portion, particularly the eastern half, is under severe or extreme drought.
Similar requests from Crook and Jefferson County were approved by Governor Kotek last week.