Gov Kotek Declares Drought Emergency for Jackson County

Governor Tina Kotek has declared a drought emergency in Jackson County through Executive Order 23-15, and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region.

May 2023 was one of the warmest months on record and high temperatures exacerbated evaporative and water supply demands. While conditions have improved since the beginning of water year 2023, a majority of Jackson County is experiencing moderate drought conditions (D1), and the rest of the county is experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

Overall, Jackson County is averaging just 65% of the long-term average streamflow over the water year to date (June 2023), while the Rogue Basin as a whole is measuring 74% of average. Although streams benefitted from the above average snowpack received, stream flows quickly receded and are currently measuring below average conditions and continue to trend downwards throughout the county.

Drought is likely to have a significant economic impact on the farm, ranch, recreation, tourism and natural resources sectors, as well as an impact on 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.

The Oregon Drought Readiness Council, a standing body composed of natural resource, public health, and emergency response agencies, received requests from the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in May requesting the Governor’s drought declaration. 

The Council received input from Oregon’s Water Supply Availability Committee on regional water supply conditions and Council members have conferred on this matter. The Council recommended that the Governor declare drought in Jackson County for the 2023 calendar year, pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 536.740. 

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 Department of Emergency Management. 

This drought declaration marks the ninth made by Governor Kotek this calendar year.

Source: Gov Kotek Office

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