Salem, OR—Governor Tina Kotek has declared a drought in Sherman and Lake counties through Executive Order 23-08,
and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region.
Both counties are experiencing moderate (D1) to severe (D2) drought conditions, with over 90% of Lake County and 94% of Sherman County in drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. Conditions have progressively worsened over winter and spring due to well below average precipitation.
While most of Oregon has seen drought conditions improve over the year, drought conditions in Sherman County have worsened from moderate to severe drought due to well below average precipitation. Streamflows in Sherman County are measuring at 88% of the long-term average. Likewise, streamflows in northern Lake County continue to measure below average as a result of lower than usual precipitation and little runoff response from snowmelt.
Drought is likely to have a significant economic impact on the farm, ranch, recreation, tourism and natural resources sectors, as well as an impact on drinking water, fish and wildlife, and important minimum flows for public instream uses and other natural resources dependent on adequate precipitation, stored water, and streamflow in these areas. Extreme conditions are expected to affect local growers and livestock, increase the potential for fire, shorten the growing season, and decrease water supplies.
The drought declaration by Governor Kotek unlocks a number of drought-related emergency tools for water users, including assistance to local water users. Drought declarations also allow the Water Resources Department to expedite review processes and reduce fee schedules.
The Oregon Drought Readiness Council, a standing body composed of natural resource, public health, and emergency response agencies, received requests from the Lake County Board of Commissioners and Sherman County Board of Commissioners in May requesting Governor’s drought declarations.
The Council received input from Oregon’s Water Supply Availability Committee on regional water supply conditions and Council members have conferred on this matter. The Council recommended that the Governor declare drought in Lake and Sherman Counties for the 2023 calendar year, pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 536.740.
As state and local officials coordinate with federal partners, conditions will be closely monitored by the state’s natural resource and public safety agencies, including the Oregon Water Resources Department and the Oregon Department of Emergency Management.