Drought preparedness & response

At its most basic level, drought means there is a lack of water to meet needs. We are responsible for monitoring water supply and drought conditions and taking action when drought conditions exist or are anticipated. We work with state and federal agencies to determine current and projected water supplies for the state. 

In Washington, there is a legal definition of drought that is based on water availability. A drought emergency is declared when water supply conditions are currently or projected to be at or below 75 percent of average, and there is potential for undue hardships to water users and uses.

Building long-term drought resiliency and improving our ability to quickly and effectively respond to drought emergencies will help mitigate the impact of drought when it occurs, lessening the negative effects it can have on water supplies for people, farms, and fish.

Drought planning

Once a drought is declared, we are the lead agency for drought response and follows a comprehensive Drought Contingency Plan. Drought response efforts include:
  • Aiding state agriculture
  • Protecting public water supplies
  • Safeguarding fish and boosting stream flows