Public agencies experiencing hardships related to drought conditions may now be eligible for funds to ease drought-related effects.
Beginning Tuesday, the Washington Department of Ecology is accepting applications for grants. Public agencies, such as towns or irrigation districts, can apply for up to $350,000 which must be matched by the applicant. The grants could be used for projects such as emergency standby wells for rural communities, or help for hatcheries to maintain cool clean water for fish.
The 2019 Legislature appropriated $2 million for drought response.
“This funding is meant to help our communities be more resilient,” said Mary Verner, Ecology’s Water Resources Program manager. “Conditions are expected to worsen over the summer and we want to be able to act quickly if needed.”
Last month, the state expanded the drought emergency that was declared in April and now includes a total of 27 watersheds. This designation allows Ecology to expedite emergency water right permitting, as well as making funds available to address hardships caused by drought conditions.
“We’re coming out of a mediocre snowpack winter with lower-than-normal precipitation,” said Jeff Marti, Ecology’s drought coordinator. “Additionally, we’re seeing some of the driest conditions on record in the northwest part of the state, while locations in the southeast have experienced recent flood watches.”
There are two factors considered for the state to issue an emergency drought declaration: Water supply conditions that are currently or projected to be at or below 75 percent of average, and a projection of undue hardships.
For more information about the grants or to apply, please visit Ecology’s drought website.