Heavy irrigation underway in Baker Valley, Oregon

15 hours 20 minutes ago
Most irrigable land in the Baker Valley was under irrigation in mid-May as dry conditions took hold after a very wet April. Wind and heat also played roles in drying out the landscape. Farmers and ranchers were irrigating heavily, prompting the Baker Valley Irrigation District to release water from the Phillips Reservoir. On May 1, the irrigation district increased the water release from Mason Dam from 42 cubic feet per second to 167 cfs to satisfy irrigation demands. During the week of May 13, the volume being released rose to 345 cfs before tapering off slightly to 310 cfs. Baker City Herald (Ore.), May 17, 2019

High water demand in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

2 days 10 hours ago
Water demand in Mount Pleasant was higher than normal for early May as dry conditions prompted residents to water their lawns more, according to Clay Duffie, general manager for Mount Pleasant Waterworks. Charleston Post & Courier (S.C.), May 15, 2019

Campsites closed along Ross Lake in northern Washington

5 days 10 hours ago
The low level of Ross Lake prompted the National Park Service to close campsites along the lake. The Park Service stated that the level of the reservoir was expected to be significantly lower than normal during the summer months, due to low precipitation, the drop in snowpack and the protection of chum salmon redds, leading to a drawdown by Seattle City Light. The exposed lakebed and boat ramps at Hozomeen were also closed until water levels rise. Puget Sound Public Radio (Wash.), May 16, 2019

Outdoor burning season temporarily suspended in Lane County, Oregon

5 days 16 hours ago
Due to the elevated fire risk, the Lane Fire Defense Board and the Oregon Department of Forestry temporarily suspended outdoor burning season in Lane County, effective May 8 for the next seven days. Burning will resume when rain returns. Hot, dry conditions contributed to an early start to the fire season in Lane County. Fires typically begin in June or July, about a month after the last significant rainfall, but the last trace of rain fell at the Eugene Airport on April 23. Vancouver Columbian (Wash.), May 11, 2019

Increased fire danger rating for much of Washington State

5 days 17 hours ago
The Washington Department of Natural Resources increased the fire danger rating from low to moderate for most of the state, including Chelan, Foothills, Highlands, Kaniksu, Lower Basin, Lower Yakama, Methow, Upper Basin, Upper Yakama, and Valley. “We have dry landscapes, it’s as dry as it can typically be in mid-August,” stated DNR spokesperson Janet Pearce. “This is alarming, but we have our fire crews on call this weekend and ready for initial attack should any wildfires start.” On top of expanded staffing levels for fire crews, the public is asked to be very careful not to spark a wildfire and to call 911 if they see smoke. iFiberOne (Ephrata, Wash.), May 10, 2019

15 South Carolina counties in incipient drought

6 days 10 hours ago
The S.C. Drought Response Committee recognized 15 counties in the southern part of the state as being in incipient drought. The affected counties are Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Edgefield, Georgetown, Hampton, Jasper, Orangeburg, and Williamsburg. The public was urged to be very cautious if burning materials outdoors. Charleston Post & Courier (S.C.), May 15, 2019

Highest early season wildfire activity in Washington in a decade

6 days 10 hours ago
Washington has experienced 239 wildfires since the start of the year through May 7, for the most fire activity early in the season in the past decade. Seasonal wildland fire fighters were standing by in preparation for additional fires. Seattle Patch (Wash.), May 7, 2019

Water supply at 75 percent for Kennewick Irrigation District in Washington

6 days 10 hours ago
The May water supply forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for Yakima River pro-ratable users like the Kennewick Irrigation District dropped to 75 percent. Curtailments and rationing were not yet required, but water supply conditions were expected to deteriorate. NBCRightNow.com (Kennewick, Wash.), May 7, 2019

Big Island pastures in poor condition in Hawaii

6 days 10 hours ago
Ranch pastures in the Pahala area of the Big Island were not doing well as precipitation was less than half of normal in March. Rainfall was poor during April also. West Hawaii Today (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii), May 12, 2019

Burn bans in northwest Oregon

6 days 16 hours ago
An outdoor burn ban was in effect for Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties, due to heat and drought. The ban began May 8 and ended May 12. Salem Statesman-Journal (Ore.), May 7, 2019

Reduced water allotments for junior water rights holders in Yakima Basin in Washington

1 week ago
Junior water rights holders in the Yakima Basin were forecast to receive 75 percent of their allotment in 2019, according to the Bureau of Reclamation’s May forecast. Senior water rights holders were anticipated to receive full allotments. In April, mountain snowpack decreased and was between 65 and 70 percent of average. Gov. Jay Inslee also declared a drought emergency for the Upper Yakima Basin on April 4. Yakima Herald-Republic (Wash.), May 6, 2019

Water conservation still needed in Petersburg, Alaska

2 weeks 4 days ago
Petersburg returned to hydropower production, but water conservation is still needed as hydroelectric reservoirs continue to refill. The community relied on diesel power through the winter as the reservoirs ran low and were not replenished amid a drought. KTOO Public Media (Juneau, Alaska), April 29, 2019

Weedy pastures in parts of Texas

3 weeks 5 days ago
An abundance of weeds afflicted pastures in forage-producing areas like East, Central and Southeast Texas as drought reduced hay production in late 2018. Unseasonal rain followed drought lasin 2018, which resulted in fewer plantings of cool-season forages, allowing weeds to proliferate in spring 2019. Bryan-College Station Eagle (Texas), April 23, 2019

Fisheries closures to protect Nooksack River chinook salmon in Washington

1 month ago
Washington state fisheries managers set limits on Nooksack River chinook, due to projected low returns, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Closures of local fisheries for threatened chinook covered the San Juan Islands in August and Deception Pass in December and January. Warming temperatures, low snowpack and potential summer drought were some of the other factors not boding well for chinook salmon. Bellingham Herald (Wash.), April 17, 2019

Agreement on Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

1 month ago
President Trump signed the Colorado River Drought Contingency plan into law on April 16, 2019. Las Vegas Sun (Nev.), April 16, 2019 The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan to manage the river was finished, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. Federal legislation was all that was needed to implement the plan. The Associated Press, March 19, 2019 The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation asserted that Arizona and California missed the deadline, meaning the Bureau will step in to manage water supplies. If the two states can complete their agreements by March 4, the Bureau will not intervene. In the meantime, the Bureau was asking governors of the seven states in the Colorado River basin for recommendations on cutting water use and preserving water storage in reservoirs. Santa Fe New Mexican (N.M.), Feb. 1, 2019 Seven Southwestern states reached agreements on management of the Colorado River Basin as the region endured drought. California also agreed to water cuts earlier than legally required. The Upper Basin states will try to keep the level of Lake Powell at or above 3,525 feet above sea level, and the Lower Basin states will attempt to conserve more water. If Lake Mead falls below a certain level, Arizona will curb its water use by up to 9 percent, California by as much as 8 percent and Nevada by 3 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation foresees the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead at 57 percent by 2020. Casper Star-Tribune (Wyo.), Oct. 11, 2018

Some northern Colorado golf courses closing temporarily

1 month 1 week ago
Some golf courses in northern Colorado were closing temporarily as the warm, dry winter drew more golfers out on the courses, increasing the wear, which can lead to higher maintenance costs in the spring. Many municipal courses in the Fort Collins area were open, while some private ones had closed or had restrictions on cart use. Fort Collins Country Club and Ptarmigan Country Club were closed, while Windsor, Highland Meadows and Mountain Vista Golf Course had cart restrictions. The warm, dry conditions also allowed some golf courses to bring in record revenue and rounds in January. Fort Collins Coloradoan (Colo.), Feb. 1, 2019 and Greeley Daily Tribune (Colo.), April 10, 2019

Air quality affected by diesel power generation in southeast Alaska

1 month 1 week ago
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski sought federal assistance for the communities of Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell as they used diesel generators more than usual, affecting air quality. Title V permits dictate the number of hours operators can use their generators, and the permits were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the Clean Air Act. Drought forced the southeast Alaska communities to use their diesel generators more than usual because there was not enough water in reservoirs to generate hydropower. Murkowski asked that the air quality regulators issue waivers for the power providers in southeast Alaska. KSTK-FM 101.7 Public Radio (Wrangell, Alaska), April 4, 2019
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