Drought 2024

Department of Ecology Issues Drought Emergency for Most of Washington State

Low snowpack and forecasts for a dry and warm spring and summer prompted Ecology to declare a drought emergency for most of Washington state, excluding the service areas of the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett.

Map showing drought effects in Washington.

Ecology is making a total of $4.5 million available in drought response grants to offset impacts from the current drought conditions for sectors such as drinking water systems, agriculture, and fish and wildlife. Publicly owned Group A water systems such as municipalities, water districts, and the like that are experiencing drought impacts should apply directly to the Department of Ecology for drought response grants, and also alert their ODW regional engineer that they are experiencing drought-related impacts. Please refer to our Offices and Staff webpage for contact information. Privately-owned non-profit Group A water systems experiencing drought consequences should contact their ODW regional engineer to report the situation and get information about accessing emergency drought funds through us.

The information below is for water system managers. For general information on the drought, visit Ecology's Drought Response webpage.

Steps to Take to Identify and Avoid Potential Water Shortages

  1. Monitor water levels. Some water sources are more vulnerable to water shortages. Surface waters, springs, and shallow wells are often heavily reliant on runoff from snow and recent rainfall for recharge. Checking source water levels frequently can help identify alarming trends and give you more time to react. Your local pump technician, Evergreen Rural Water of Washington at (360) 462-9287, or a large neighboring utility, can help you measure water levels. You can also find helpful information with our Measuring Water Levels in Wells 331-428 (PDF).
  2. Find leaks and repair them. Leaky water pipes can waste precious water. Help from qualified professionals on leak detection and repair is available through Evergreen Rural Water of Washington or a professional leak detection company.
  3. Educate your customers about water conservation. This is the time to stress the importance of wise use of water. Water conservation ideas for homeowners can be found at the Alliance for Water Efficiency's website. We have statement inserts/bill stuffers available for your use. You can order them for free in our publications database (use the publication number) or print them yourselves.
  4. Prepare a water shortage response plan. Thinking ahead and developing a plan can help tremendously when problems arise.
  1. Look for alternate sources of water for use during an emergency. Now is the time to develop a relationship with a neighboring water system. Work together for mutually beneficial solutions to a water shortage or get an emergency water source ready and approved for use. If you have not already done so, this may be an appropriate time to join Washington's Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN). This network allows water and wastewater systems to receive rapid mutual aid and assistance from other systems in times of an emergency. You can find more information on our WARN Response Network website.
  2. Have your emergency sources tested. Now is the time to get your emergency water source ready for use. For wells that have been out of service for a while, inspect the seal under the well cap to make sure it is in good condition, make sure there are no open holes in the well head, and there are no potential contaminants in the immediate vicinity. It is also a good idea to test for bacteria and nitrate. That way, if it needs to be sterilized, you can do it before the emergency. Additional guidance and requirements: Nitrate Sampling 331-222 (PDF), Coliform Sampling 331-225 (PDF)