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Kitzhaber Declares Drought Emergency In Southern Oregon

Klamath County is one of three counties where Governor Kitzhaber declared a drought emergency.

Klamath County is one of three counties where Governor Kitzhaber declared a drought emergency.

Michael Clapp/OPB

Governor John Kitzhaber has declared drought emergencies in Harney, Klamath, Lake and Malheur Counties.  The announcement comes with just a month to go in what’s been an unseasonably dry winter. 

Despite last week’s winter storms, many parts of Oregon still don’t have enough snow on the ground to ensure that there will be enough water to go around this summer.  One thing the governor’s declaration does is provide some flexibility to water managers to make sure what’s available is used as efficiently as possible.  It also protects drinking water supplies for people and for livestock.  

The Governor says while it’s too early to say whether the shortages will affect municipal water users,  he says the state needs to start getting a plan in place.

“I think part of this is a public information campaign about the seriousness of this and to try to begin, fairly soon to urge people to take some voluntary measures to see if we can avoid more stringent things down the road,” says Governor Kitzhaber.

Meanwhile, Kitzhaber says he’s confident that the historic water sharing agreement reached in December by water users in the Klamath Basin will hold.

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