Emergency Management helps Irrigation Districts and farmers with drought emergency declaration in Hood River County (Photo)
Hood River declares drought
Hood River County declared a State of Drought of Emergency, in response to the urgent needs of Irrigation Districts and farmers on June 24, 2015.
In disasters or major emergencies, (drought, winter storms, flood, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.,) Emergency Management, a division of Hood River Sheriff's Office, may initiate a local emergency declaration, and also request a state emergency declaration. The process streamlines expediting getting relief as quickly as possible from other jurisdictions, state and federal governments to our local community.
According to current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, annual snowpack for local mountains peaked this winter at the lowest levels measured in the last 35 years and the Red Hill Snowtel (snow-water equivalent) measurement for our Cascade region is at an all time low. Consequently, stream flows are directly impacted. The 2015 Tucker Bridge stream gauge level is already the lowest since the gauge was installed in 1979. High temperatures are compounding the situation.
The County cited loss of water supplies to three local Irrigation Districts in its declaration - East Fork Irrigation District, Farmers Irrigation District and Middle Fork Irrigation District.
Hood River county drinking (potable) water supplies are not significantly impacted by the drought at this time, however irrigation water supplies are - especially those dependent on snow melt and surface water, not ground water. Irrigation Districts don't deliver drinking water, but play a crucial role in the Hood River's vital economy - supporting agriculture and residential farming communities.
Twenty other Oregon counties have now declared a drought disaster, all from central, southern or eastern Oregon.
ABOUT EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS:
After the County declares a local disaster, it can request help from the Governor, to streamline access to Oregon Water Resources tools, to help residents and businesses gain easier permitting, lowered fees and quick turnaround time in moving or accessing water supplies or rights. These requests are turned around in weeks, instead of months, and permitting costs are reduced, in an effort to speed up local relief.
State support is not delivered by trucks that bring in water from other jurisdictions, nor is there immediate grant money available for mitigation. However, in a state declared disaster, having more flexibility from State rules in accessing local water supplies strategically, and more quickly, to expand or build wells, make water transfers from one property to another, allow temporary conversion from in-stream to ground water use, temporary transfers of water rights, use of existing right option/agreements or Emergency Water Use Permits more easily.
Due to a related USDA (federal) drought designation, Hood River County farmers, businesses and residents are potentially eligible for low interest emergency loans, which opened access for low interest USDA loans to farmers, businesses and nonprofits impacted by the drought. For more information, please contact the Hood River USDA office.
Emergency Management is one of many specialty services offered by Hood River County Sheriff's Office, including Search and Rescue, Marine Patrol, 911 dispatch, Enforcement Division, Animal Control, Emergency Management, Civil Division and Parole & Probation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
All residents, businesses, visitors and landowners are reminded of the extremely hazardous fire season conditions in Hood River County, due to high temperatures, low humidity, consistently high Gorge winds, lack of rainfall and snowmelt. ODF recently restricted all forestry lands to level 3 (extreme fire danger) regulations, which limits the use and safety requirements for mowing, weed wacking, campfires, harvesting, off road vehicles and other activities. Those regulations are attached herein for reference.
Even the time of day that you mow your lawn can make a significant difference in reducing fire hazards for our community.
Voluntary water conservation measures are being encouraged by Hood River County - please help do your part. Attached are water conservation tips from Hood River Water and Soil Conservation District.