Governor of drought-parched Oregon to order water usage review

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 08, 2015 5:38 PM

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Oregon's governor plans to order state agencies to review their water usage and to draft strategies to conserve water in the parched state, following similar moves in neighboring drought-stricken California, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Governor Kate Brown plans to issue the directive later this month and asked residents of the West Coast state on Wednesday to conserve water and for state agencies to help raise awareness of drought conditions, her office said.

"Drought is a slow moving disaster," Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Adopting responsible water use practices now will help reduce the impact of drought for years to come."

Brown's order would come as the West Coast states of Washington and California enact water conservation measures and burn restrictions as areas grapple with historic drought conditions and record low snowpack.

It also comes as firefighters in Oregon and other states in the parched U.S. West work to control dozens of wildfires in a particularly fierce early start to the fire season.

In California, which is suffering a four-year drought, residents cut water use by nearly 29 percent in May just ahead of mandatory cutbacks that took effect on June 1.

In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency in May, citing record-low snowpack, dwindling rivers and irrigation districts cutting off water to farmers.

Oregon is experiencing the lowest statewide snowpack level on record, the third warmest average temperature from January to May in the past 121 years and below-normal rainfall, Brown said in her statement. Twenty of Oregon's 36 counties are under a governor-declared emergency drought declaration.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)