Wednesday August 2, 2023

Oregon Capital Chronicle

The record-warm May that burned off a sizable chunk of the state’s snowpack has left flows in many of Washington’s rivers and streams depleted heading into late summer.

It’s not the driest year the state has seen. But it’s still bad news for fish that depend on cool water and ample streamflows for survival and farmers who tap snow-fed waterways to irrigate crops. With weeks of summer left to go, there are signs of the stress the conditions are creating for people and wildlife.

Sturgeon are turning up dead in higher-than-normal numbers in pools on the Columbia River, irrigators in the Yakima River basin are cutting water deliveries to farms, and wildlife managers are expecting to build a flume to help trout navigate a section of dry streambed.

The state Department of Ecology declared drought emergencies in parts of 12 counties last week. In some of those places, small water districts in outlying areas have taken to trucking water to customers.

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