(Image via the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Drought Monitor)
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek has declared a drought emergency in Lincoln County, and the Oregon Water Resources Department has provided a list of tools available to water users.
The declaration follows a resolution by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners to declare a local drought emergency, which included a request to the governor for a state-level declaration. In a press release this week, the governor’s office said:
“Lincoln County has experienced a significant deficit in precipitation over the past 90 days compared to historical norms. Streams in Lincoln County are measuring below to well below average flows, and several streams have measured record low streamflows for extended periods of time. Drought signals indicate short-term drought conditions equivalent to exceptional drought due to warm, dry conditions.
“Drought is likely to have a significant economic impact on the farm, ranch, recreation, tourism and natural resources sectors. Drought also impacts drinking water, fish and wildlife, and important minimum flows for public instream uses and other natural resources dependent on adequate precipitation, stored water, and streamflow in these areas.
“Extreme conditions are expected to affect local growers and livestock, increase the potential for wildfire fire, shorten the growing season, and decrease water supplies.
“The drought declaration by Governor Kotek 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.”
At the request of the Board of Commissioners, the Water Resources Department provided the following list of resources for livestock, agricultural and other water users:
• Main Drought Website – a generic page with Frequently Asked Questions, including links to more useful sub-pages: https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/programs/climate/droughtwatch/Pages/default.aspx
• Phone numbers & email: 503-986-0900 – OWRD’s main phone line to the Salem office. Customer service staff can answer basic questions about fees, where to find application forms, the general process, etc. They can also be reached via email at email@example.com.
• 2023 Drought Process and Tools.pdf (oregon.gov) – a summary of the state drought declaration process and what tools are available from the Water Resources Department. For example, an approved emergency water use drought permit allows a water user to temporarily replace water not available under an existing water right. The most common drought permit allows the use of groundwater as an alternative to an existing surface water right. https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/programs/climate/droughtwatch/Documents/2023%20Drought%20Process%20and%20Tools.pdf
• Drought Application Forms – a sub-page that will take you to applications for an emergency drought permits for use of groundwater or surface water, or transfer applications. https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/programs/climate/droughtwatch/Pages/DroughtForms.aspx
• Fee Schedule – hop to page 4 to see the cost of an emergency application. Fees vary. Generally, fees range from $200 - $1,000, but depend on the application type and the amount of water requested. https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/WRDFormsPDF/fee_schedule.pdf
For additional questions, contact Public Information Officer Kenneth Lipp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-265-4100.