State Rep. Bruce Chandler, who represents Washington's 15th Legislative District, has called on his fellow political leaders to begin preparing for a serious drought.
The Granger Republican, whose district includes Klickitat County, is right on the money when he warns that 2005 may be a difficult year in the state of Washington. Look no further than out the window, where we've been seeing blue skies, bright sun, and temperatures in the 60s at a time of the year when temperatures are, on average, more typically expected to be in the 40s.
Chandler has taken a lead role in calling for legislative leaders from both political parties and Gov. Christine Gregoire to try to deal with the looming water-shortage. We strongly appreciate State Rep. Chandler's attention to this issue.
In February, there was virtually no precipitation in our area. The regional snowpack is all but non-existent, and the prospects of it improving are basically gone for this year. We've probably received about all the snow we're going to get until next winter. Long-range weather forecasts offer little hope, with relatively high temperatures and minimal rainfall/snowfall anticipated.
Those who measure snowpack in the region are reporting that the Cascade Mountains are at about 30 percent of normal, the lightest snowpack in more than 25 years. Washington relies heavily on runoff from snow melting on mountains to keep rivers and streams flowing at healthy levels, and the situation this year -- with little snow left to melt -- may lead to interrupted water rights, crop damage, and low power generation.
Municipal water supplies and flows for fish are probably going to be impacted in a serious way. The danger of wildfires is also expected to be higher and come sooner than we're used to seeing, and the Klickitat County Commissioners are already considering imposing a burn ban, effective May 1. Last year, it didn't come until July 1.
In short, the effects of the drought are likely to be far reaching, and the state's citizens and political leaders need to brace for problems.
It's not too early to begin conserving water. Watering lawns and washing cars ought to be forgotten for awhile, for example.
We may be in for a very long summer.