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Side Notes 5/27-6/3

Gov. Kate Brown declares drought emergency in Deschutes County

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Deschutes County joins a growing list of Oregon counties—now 15 deep—designated by Gov. Kate Brown as drought emergencies following Friday's announcement. In addition to Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Morrow, Umatilla, and Wasco counties have been added.

"The majority of our state is parched due to the warm winter and lack of snow," Gov. Brown said in a release. "As we move into summer, many areas of the state are going to dry out very quickly, likely leading to a difficult fire season as well as water shortages. We need our state, local and federal partners to be prepared as our communities grapple with hot and dry conditions."

In an effort to drive home the seriousness of these conditions, Gov. Brown is launching the #ORdrought campaign, which she kicked off with the video in which she stresses that while the situation is dire, meaningful changes can still be made.

"It may look green now, but we are going to experience one of the worst droughts in the history of our state," she says in the video. "But the script hasn't been written yet. By working together, we can begin to make a difference right now."

The drought declaration directs agencies such as the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Department of Water Resources, the Water Resources Commission, and the Office of Emergency Management to assist water users and the state in mitigating the impacts of the drought. In response to the drought declaration, the City of Bend issued a Stage 1 water curtailment alert. A Stage 1 alert does not impose any mandatory restrictions on City water customers and can be sparked by four factors. In this case, it's the first two: Forecasts of below normal summer streamflows and forecasts of above normal temperatures.

"Water conservation is more important than ever," City Manager Eric King said in a release.

While the declaration of a drought by the Governor is listed as one of the initiating conditions for a Stage 2 curtailment—which would include such prohibitions as filling swimming pools, washing sidewalks, and pressure washing decks—Water Conservation Manager Mike Buettner says that fact alone does not require it.

He told the Source that if the City were to experience a shortage in its water supply—a possibility as it gets hotter and drier—it might prompt mandatory restrictions.

"While we may be short on the supply side on the surface water component, we can attenuate for that with ground water," Buettner explained. Still, he admits, "I could see us going to Stage 2 sometime down the road."

About The Author

Erin Rook

Erin is the Source Weekly's Associate Editor. Before moving to Bend in 2013, Erin worked as a writer and editor for publications in Portland including PQ Monthly and Just Out. He has also written for the Willamette Week, El Hispanic News, Travel Portland, OUT City, Boston magazine and the Taunton Daily Gazette...

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