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Department of Ecology
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Drought Contingency Plan

Department of Ecology | Water supply | Statewide conditions

Washington State Drought Contingency Plan - Draft

The year 2015 was the most extreme drought Washington experienced in recent decades. Record warm winter temperatures caused a record low snowpack, or snow drought. Reduced snow-water storage and very dry spring and early summer resulted in extremely low stream flows in many watersheds across the state. 

The drought proved to be a learning experience for water managers and water users statewide. Much of that understanding is reflected in this draft of the revised Washington State Drought Contingency Plan. This plan will replace the prior Drought Contingency Plan, published in 1992. Key recommendations in the updated plan include incorporating an Advisory phase into Washington State’s drought monitoring and communication, placing greater emphasis on long-term resiliency actions, and establishing a permanent drought contingency fund.

This plan was developed with support from a WaterSMART grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. This grant award enabled the Department of Ecology to convene a Drought Contingency Planning Task Force and to contract for facilitation and strategic services. A public comment opportunity for the plan was held July 25 – Aug. 16, 2017.

The plan is currently under review by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and is not yet final. Once the review is complete, this plan will be submitted to the federal Office of Management and Budget and filed with Congress, pursuant to the process envisioned in the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991. Under this statute, if Washington State ever needs to call upon the assistance of the Bureau for the purpose of emergency drought relief (e.g., accessing storage behind a Bureau reservoir), that process will be streamlined.  

If you have questions regarding the plan, please contact:

Jeff Marti
Department of Ecology, Water Resources Program
360 407-6627


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