Umpqua Post Environment STOCK

DOUGLAS COUNTY — Drought continues to spread across southern and Eastern Oregon, as Douglas County is the fifth county to declare a drought order.

On June 6, Douglas County Public Works Director Scott Adams presented and received approval for an emergency drought order at the Douglas County Board of Commissioners weekly business meeting, according to a press release from Douglas County spokeswoman Tamara Osborne.

Gov. Kate Brown has already declared droughts in Lake, Klamath, Grant and Harney counties this year.

Upon official recording of the order, commissioners will send the order to Gov. Brown, requesting an official emergency drought declaration for Douglas County.

"The order cited below average precipitation, lack of snow pack, low stream flows, higher than normal temperatures, economic hardship and potential for serious injury, as the basis for the request," Osborne wrote.

As of May 18, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that the snow pack in the Umpqua Basin is 26 percent of normal. Also, as of May 18 the State of Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD), predicted, “Stream flows will be much lower than normal.”

"National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center also forecasts that seasonal drought within our region will persist or intensify," Osborne emphasized. "This could dramatically increase wild land fire danger due to higher than normal temperatures and below average precipitation."

“The Douglas County Board of Commissioners agreed that measures must be taken to alleviate stress to citizens and livestock, to protect or mitigate economic loss, and to be responsive to the threat of wildfires,” said Commissioner Chris Boice.

Although the drought declaration has not resulted in any residential use restrictions, it is a good reminder that water conservation is always a good idea and that fire danger is likely to be high in many parts of Douglas County this summer.

Osborne added that the governor's drought declaration will allow increased flexibility in how water is managed to ensure that limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible.

"Gov. Brown's declaration will also authorize state agencies to expedite water management tools to users who would not otherwise have access," Osborne wrote.

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