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Washington Ecology issues state drought advisory

July 10, 2023

Prompted by warmer spring temperatures, dry weather and low soil moisture, the Washington Department of Ecology has issued a statewide drought advisory, providing an early warning of possible drought.

“Our warm weather arrived a few weeks early this year and really kicked the runoff into overdrive,” said Jeff Marti, water resources planner for the Department of Ecology, “As we head into the hottest weeks of the summer, we want people to use water wisely and to be aware of our water supply situation.”

Drought advisories raise awareness of developing drought conditions and ready the public for water conservation measures. They don’t have no emergency authorizations or funding.

The Department of Ecology will continue to monitor water supply conditions and regularly reassess the need for a formal drought declaration.

Despite a healthy snowpack in April, the warmest May on record trigger early snowmelt. The initial meltoff resulted in high discharge measurements as runoff entered rivers and streams. Now, most streamflow measurements across Washington state are projected to be below 75% of normal. In addition to the warmest May temperatures, only 47% of normal precipitation fell and.

The Cascade Mountain range is known to divide the state into distinct watersheds, but both sides of the state are being affected by the early runoff and declining water supplies. Though widespread impacts to municipal water systems have not been reported, some water utilities have established water use restrictions to sustain drinking source water. Foresight and robust water storage facilities operated by water utilities in large metropolitan areas including Tacoma, Seattle and Everett report having plenty of water for customers.

The City of Tacoma as well as Pierce County and Snohomish County partner with Kisters to manage streams of data from flow metering, water quality sampling, and rainfall monitoring for efficient water management. And in the eastern part of the state, Palouse Conservation District and Washington State Department of Agriculture are using Kisters environmental data management system to collect, analyze and report on water quality and quantity.