Dept. of Ecology declares drought emergency for most of Washington state

by Helen Smith at

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Department of Ecology (Ecology) declared a drought emergency for most of Washington state on Tuesday due to low snowpack and forecasts predicting dry and warm spring and summer seasons. 

Service areas encompassing Everett, Seattle, SeaTac and Tacoma are the only spots excepted from the declaration. It’s the fourth-earliest drought declaration on record in Washington, according to Ecology.

A drought is declared in Washington state when there is less than 75% of the normal water supply and there is a risk of “undue hardship,” according to Ecology. The current drought emergency declaration is a continuation of the conditions that led Ecology to declare a drought in 12 watersheds across the state last year, the department wrote. 

Washington had an exceptionally dry winter, and although the snowpack managed to make up some ground between February and April, there is not enough water contained in mountain snow and reservoirs to prevent “serious impacts for water users” in the upcoming months, Ecology said in a press release

The drought emergency declaration will make assistance available before impacts of low water supply become “severe.”

Ecology also tweeted on Tuesday that areas of the state are expected to see the lowest levels of streamflow on record. This raises serious concerns for fish and other species, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.