Gov. declares drought emergency in Central Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency in the Methow, Okanogan and Upper Yakima basins.

The Washington Department of Ecology says that despite significant snow in parts of the state, water supply shortages are projected in those watersheds.

The Methow is projected at 72% of normal, the Okanogan is expected to be 58% of normal, and the Upper Yakima at 74%.

Ecology director Maia Bellon says the areas in drought emergency are prime agricultural regions and crops including apples, berries, cherries and others could be at risk if faced with water supply shortages.

Bellon says the declaration means state agencies, local conservation and irrigation districts can provide a range of emergency services.

Ecology is also requesting $2 million from the state Office of Financial Management for drought response programs and has asked the Legislature to modernize the state’s drought laws.