Despite recent rain and snowfall, much of Central Oregon is still experiencing drought.
Gov. Tina Kotek declared a drought emergency in Deschutes and Grant counties on Friday. The declarations free up emergency funds for people impacted by low levels of water.
Central Oregon has long been one of the driest regions in the state, and streamflows remain low there. The John Day River basin in Grant County has a streamflow that’s just 39% of average, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Government bodies in both counties that monitor drought sent requests to the governor’s office this month seeking the emergency declarations.
Snowpacks in both counties are above historic levels, but officials say the snow will only provide temporary relief this spring as it melts.
Since taking office, Kotek has acknowledged Oregon has several protracted issues around water, including drought and groundwater contamination in parts of the state.
A January audit by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office noted that the state needs to develop better communication and planning around water usage if it hopes to break the cycle of water shortages each spring and summer.