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Gov. Brown declares drought emergencies in 7 more Central, Eastern Oregon counties

(Update: Adding pair of executive orders declaring drought emergencies)

Joining eight other counties with drought declarations

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – Gov. Kate Brown signed a pair of executive orders Tuesday declaring drought emergencies in seven Central and Eastern Oregon counties “due to lack of precipitation and unusually low snowpack and streamflow.”

The executive orders, one for Deschutes and Jefferson counties and the other for Crook, Harney, Malheur, Sherman and Wallowa counties, were based on requests by the county commissions and recommendations by the Drought Readiness Council and the Water Supply Availability Committee finding that the dry conditions “have caused or will cause natural and economic disaster conditions” in the counties.

“Forecasted water supply conditions are not expected to improve,” the orders state, noting the “significant economic impact” as well as the impact on natural resources.

The orders, which expire Dec. 31, direct the Oregon Department of Agriculture to coordinate and provide help in seeking federal resources to mitigate drought conditions and assist in agricultural recovery. The Water Resources Department, meanwhile, is directed to coordinate and provide aid to water users. The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Office of Emergency Management are also involved.

It's the second year in a row for emergency drought declarations the three Central Oregon counties.

The Drought Readiness Council said in a letter sent Friday to the governor's office that they have received input from Oregon’s Water Supply Availability Committee on regional water supply conditions and council members have "conferred on this matter."

The seven now join eight Oregon counties where the governor has already issued drought declarations, according to a listing from the Oregon Water Resources Department. (The list indicates another county, Umatilla, also has a drought declaration request pending.)

A state drought declaration allows the Water Resources Department to offer certain tools to water right-holders in a drought-declared county.

These tools have an expedited review process, reduced fee schedule, and are intended to be short-term emergency authorizations, not permanent solutions.

Water right holders seeking long-term solutions can contact their watermaster for other options such as temporary transfers, where a water user can apply to change the type of use, place of use, or the location of the diversion under an existing water right.

SNOTEL telemetry reports say the region's vital snow-water content is at just 48 percent of the median for this time of year.

For Deschutes County, it's the 10th drought declaration since 1991.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.



  1. I find it interesting that residents are asked to conserve and only water on certain days. However RAPRD can water Hayden Park everyday to the point of saturation. The city here is not setting a good example. How many other parks are watered excessively?
    Shouldn’t the cities be held accountable to their water consumption?

  2. If Kate makes a drought declaration for these 7 counties will that prove there is no drought and so we should all resist the declaration and it’s so called tools?

  3. too many stupid golf courses and idiots who think they need lush grass in every inch or their yards. Im curious to know how much water the schools use in ONE DAY

  4. Quit letting large amounts of water out all winter long. Remember that Bend has a water park on the River now so they have to keep the river flowing at a certain height to make them happy.

  5. I am still haunted by the 1973 Movie, Soylent Green. It took place in 2022 and New York was sweltering hot, no relief. Water and food was rationed to the general population. Only the wealthy could afford water, air conditioning and regular meals. Scary thought

  6. Funny… Anyone in bend Central Oregon…look west. See those mountains? Where does the metolious river come from…hello…? From those mountains. I’ve been in central oregon for over 40 years. I had an old timer… Well driller tell me there’s about 22;years worth of water in the water aquifer below those gorgeous mountains. So if it quit raining and snowing there’s lots of water. But he says with the population increase it has actually put a little stress on the supply down below you in the dirt. Think about that people. 🤔🤔

  7. So yesterday as I sat outside my house just passed some farms, I watched them water and I noticed… the end of the irrigation sprinkler line and it was watering the road. As i walked back in and out along the day, I took down the time mentally. The paved road was watered for a solid 4 hours. You want to talk about wasted water, start with our large farms watering our streets instead of their farm. Farms account for 10% of greenhouse gases in the US alone. In contrast, small farms have been proven to use less water, produce less gas and more food due to their usual no till techniques. Large farms could switch to these techniques, but it would take too much effort and money to do so. Not to mention, large farms have been losing money for the passed decade. It’s time we move away from large farms and start helping fund smaller farms communities to create jobs and curb pollution. It’s just one more of the many things we need to do if we’re going to make a difference. Large farms I know this is hard to hear. You would need to be either scaling down or the local government would need to make sure that you can find a suitable job with no cost training to ensure transition is as easy as possible. And I know no one probably likes the idea, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need done. This world is getting smaller every day and adjustments are needed. Old ways no longer work.

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