Salem, OR—Governor Tina Kotek has declared a drought in Gilliam, Douglas and Lincoln Counties through Executive Order 23-20
and Executive Order 23-22,
and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the regions.
Drought conditions are variable throughout Gilliam County, ranging from abnormally dry to severe drought. Moderate drought conditions have continued to spread across the county since the beginning of water year 2023. Precipitation since the beginning of the water year on October 1, 2022, has been well below average, with most of the county receiving less than 75% of usual precipitation to this point in the year.
Douglas County is experiencing below to well below average streamflows, with some streams measuring record low flows. The reservoir storage in the Rogue River Basin Project is also measuring below average. The county has experienced below to well below average precipitation over the water year and over the past 90 days, with May through July being the sixth-driest period on record.
Lincoln County has experienced a significant deficit in precipitation over the past 90 days compared to historical norms. Streams in Lincoln County are measuring below to well below average flows, and several streams have measured record low streamflows for extended periods of time. Drought signals indicate short-term drought conditions equivalent to exceptional drought due to warm, dry conditions.
Drought is likely to have a significant economic impact on the farm, ranch, recreation, tourism and natural resources sectors. Drought also impacts 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 wildfire 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 Boards of Commissioners in Douglas, Gilliam and Lincoln counties requesting the 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 Gilliam and Douglas 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.
Governor Kotek has now made drought declarations in 12 counties this calendar year.