News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Drought affects parts of Oregon

BEND (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared a drought emergency in seven counties.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the governor’s July 1 emergency drought declaration covers regions where agriculture relies on scant water: Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson in Central Oregon; Douglas and Josephine counties in Southern Oregon; and Gilliam and Wasco counties in the Columbia River Gorge.

The governor’s declaration enables the state Department of Agriculture to seek federal aid. It also instructs the Oregon Water Resources Department to “coordinate and provide assistance to water users,” like irrigation districts.

The city of Bend alerted its residents to conserve water.

Bend’s warning does not include any new mandatory restrictions, instead asking residents to be responsible and follow specific, existing rules, like not watering lawns and gardens during the hottest daytime hours.

The city has two sources of water: a spring high in the Cascade mountains and an aquifer deep underground. Irrigation districts serving farmland in Central Oregon pull water out of the Deschutes River. Those reservoirs are at historic lows this year.

Bend water conservation program manager Dan Denning said having dual sources makes the city more resilient to drought.

“We would be able to handle our water with one source, but we’re all in the same basin,” Denning said.


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