Jackson County declares local drought state of emergency

MEDFORD, Ore. – A local state of emergency has been declared in Jackson County due to the ongoing drought.

This past water year, local reservoirs lost more water than they received. The situation is likely to get worse, with water storage reportedly well below average.

During a county commission meeting on the morning of Wednesday, March 23, County Administrator Danny Jordan said the Rogue Valley’s economy will probably suffer due to the lack of water.

Jordan cited USDA data indicating irrigators in the area should be prepared for median to well below median supplies of stored water, which is currently estimated to be about 13% of average.

Irrigation districts in the Rogue Valley may delay opening up canals or curtail water sources later this summer, Jordan said.

Combined with low water levels, the lack of moisture on dry vegetation could fuel wildfires as the year progresses.

At the end of Jordan’s briefing Wednesday, Jackson County commissioners voted unanimously to declare a local emergency due to the ongoing drought. They also approved a measure asking Oregon Governor Kate Brown to declare a drought emergency for all of Jackson County.

If the governor declares an emergency, the Oregon Water Resources Department will be able to step in and regulate how water is distributed at a local level.

The governor proclaimed a drought state of emergency in Klamath County earlier this month.

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