Bill Helps Ecology Prepare for Droughts

In Olympia this week, lawmakers in the House OK’d plans to modernize Washington’s outdated drought-response statutes. Dan Frizzell from the House Democratic Caucus has that story.

Western states are being hit harder and more frequently with extended periods of drought. These arid stretches hurt farmers and ranchers, reduce tourism and recreation, and have a drastic effect on local, regional and statewide economies. Current law limits the ability of the Department of Ecology to prepare for and respond to drought emergencies, but that could change. Representative Brian Blake, the Aberdeen Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources, wrote a bill that could build long-term drought resiliency for farmers, water suppliers, and the environment. Here’s Blake:

BLAKE: “This bill will allow the Department of Ecology to have water under contract that they can move around and help communities exist through a drought, and allow people to have access to water during these crucial times.”

Blake acknowledges his bill can’t prevent droughts from happening, but says authorizing Ecology to mobilize before a drought emergency is just common sense. His House colleagues agreed by a five-to-one margin, and the bill now awaits Senate action. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.