Drought Update: Washington Gov. Inslee declares statewide drought emergency

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Washington Gov Jay InsleeWashington Gov. InsleeIn the face of record-low snowpack, parched rivers and desperate farmers, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency on Friday, May 15.

Gov. Inslee explained in a press release that impacts from the snowpack drought "are already severe in several areas of the state. Difficult decisions are being made about what crops get priority water and how best to save fish.”

The release also noted that mountain snowpack reached a historically low level of 16% of normal statewide, cause for grave concern as snowmelt during the spring and summer keeps rivers flowing, crops watered and fish alive. 

The Washington Department of Agriculture, according to the release, is projecting a $1.2 billion crop loss this year as a result of the drought. Another major worry is the wide-ranging consequences that the state's low snowpack will have on wildfires.

Gov Inslee said “We have some tough, challenging months ahead of us. We’re ready to bring support and relief to the hardest hit areas of the state. We’re going to do everything we can to get through this."

See more on Gov. Inslee's drought declaration here.

The Western Governors' Drought Forum is the Chairman's Initiative of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Part of that effort is to share the latest news on our blog about drought and its impact on the West.

  • droughtA recent survey by the U.S. Forest Service found that more than 12 million trees have been killed by the California drought.
  • Two counties in Idaho declared drought emergencies due to low snowpack.
  • Montana is bracing for a dry summer after underwhelming April showers.
  • Lake Mead in Nevada reached a record low as its levels fell to 38% of its capacity.
  • According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map, more than 60% of Hawaii is experiencing some level of drought.
  • California regulators approved the first statewide rules for the permitting of seawater desalination projects.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah issued a water-shortage advisory to let agencies and water users know to prepare for a very dry summer.
  • Heavy April rains brought much-needed relief to Oklahoma's extreme drought.
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared drought emergencies in seven counties; 63% of the state is experiencing extreme drought.

Read last month's Drought Update

Learn about the Western Governors' Drought Forum

Drought Forum for Home PageThe Western Governors' Drought Forum also includes regional workshops that gather experts to share best practices, case studies and other resources to help states better anticipate and manage drought.

Other Drought Forum content to explore:

  • Watch video recordings of our Webinar Series of in-depth discussions featuring water and drought management experts.
  • Our Oklahoma workshop featured a case study on Efficient Water Management in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Video
  • The Arizona workshop case study examined the Productive Partnership between Gila River Indian Community and Salt River Water Project. Video
  • The California workshop's case study highlighted Cross-Agency Collaboration in Addressing Record Drought in California. Video
  • Our New Mexico workshop featured a case study on the New Mexico River Stewardship Program's Red River Restoration Project. Video

Learn more on the Drought Forum website. You can also sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page). 

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook.