Gov. Tina Kotek called a drought emergency in Deschutes and Grant counties on Friday, 24 March 2023. People having trouble because of low water levels can get emergency funds because of the declarations.
Central Oregon has been one of the state’s driest parts for a long time, and streams flow slowly there even now. A statement from the governor’s office says that the water flow in the John Day River basin in Grant County is only 39% of what it should be.
This month, drought-watching government agencies in both counties sent requests to the governor’s office asking for the emergency declarations.
Both counties have more snow than usual, but officials say the snow will only help for a short time this spring as it melts.
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Since taking office, Kotek has said that Oregon has long-term water problems, such as drought and contaminated groundwater in some parts of the state.
The Oregon Secretary of State’s office did an audit in January and found that the state needs to improve how it talks about and plans for water use if it wants to stop having water shortages every spring and summer.