Drought continues, even with recent rainfal
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
As the levels of both local reservoirs continue to drop, the dreaded "D" word - drought - is heard when farmers, relying on the impounded water for their crops get together.
>So far, the month of July has recorded 1.96 inches of precipitation in Prineville bringing the year-to-date total to 5.59 inches
This year's lack of water started making the news in March, when Gov. John Kitzhaber declared by Executive Order that Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lake and Lane qualified for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to cover working capital needs. That declaration was to cover the impact of reduced revenue to farmers and ranchers caused by the drought that began the previous September.
The next month, Jefferson County was added to the list and in May, Crook, Hood River and Lake counties were determined to be in a state of drought.
The governor's declaration stated the situation quite clearly: "I find that the weather pattern, ongoing drought and low water conditions, and the energy shortages in the western states have imminent potential for causing a natural and economic disaster of catastrophic proportions. It is anticipated that the projected outlook will not significantly alleviate the current conditions, and that they will continue to worsen during the summer months. This will have profound consequences on the county;s agricultural and natural resources, as well as the likelihood for stark energy and economic impacts."
With the signing of the executive order, the services of state agencies including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Water Resources, and the Department of State Police and its Office of Emergency Management became available to the stricken counties. As of today, a total of 16 Oregon counties have been declared in a state of emergency.
Small, non-farm businesses in the counties of Clackamas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jefferson, Marion, Sherman, Wasco and Wheeler may apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to cover working capital needs.
Looking back over the past ten years, Prineville has averaged slightly more than ten inches of precipitation each year. Now at close to half way through the year, recent rain showers have brought us close to half that average. That amount of precipitation is beneficial to farmers, but when it comes to filling the needs of irrigators it is the lack of winter snow pack and its resulting spring runoff that counts. Getting ten inches of rain downtown is only a drop in the bucket to those who rely on acre feet of water to survive.