Drought in Oregon
Oregon and the western United States are in the worst megadrought on record. A megadrought is a period of extreme dryness that lasts for decades. Although there have been individual years of wet conditions over the past two decades, on average conditions have been drier than any other 22-year period in the past thousand years.
Drought conditions impact water supplies, streamflow, agriculture productivity, wildfire danger, and ecosystem health.
The leading contributors to drought are temperature and precipitation such as rain or snowfall. These two factors influence snowpack, soil moisture, and streamflows, which are common indicators of drought. Drought conditions can disrupt water supply cycles to the point that demand for water is greater than the water supply, impacting both people and ecosystems.
During a severe or multi-year drought, groundwater and above-ground reservoirs are not able to adequately refill. Unfortunately, this sets the stage for wildfires, poor grazing and crop conditions, decreased streamflows and habitat for fish, worse water quality, and scarce water supplies for human consumption.
Effects on water supply
Drought has become more persistent and more intense in recent years. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor
, over half of Oregon is in severe to exceptional drought. This leads to impacts on water supplies.
Water supplies in many Oregon reservoirs are much lower than normal. When less water is available than usual, it causes significant impacts on community water supplies, agricultural yields, and the health of ecosystems.
Oregon’s state agencies are coordinating to address recent drought impacts and support water users. In 2021, the Oregon legislature invested over $100 million in near-term drought relief. State leaders continue to work on opportunities for long-term resilience and planning for water scarcity.
What you can do