Washington Lawmakers To Decide On Emergency Funding For Drought Relief

May 26, 2015

Drought conditions are getting worse in Washington state.

Tuesday, lawmakers will decide whether to provide emergency funding to the state’s hardest-hit areas. Snowpack levels are lower than ever, rivers are drying out and irrigation districts are cutting off water to farmers.

Yakima Senator Jim Honeyford says he knows what that was like for farms and rural areas during previous droughts.

He remembers one apple orchard he visited back in the 1990s.

“The leaves were curled up, the trees were dying, the farmers had to make the choice to water the more valuable crops," Honeyford says. "Those are the kinds of decisions the farmers have to make.”

Honeyford is sponsoring a bill that would direct $18 million to the state Department of Ecology for emergency relief.

That’s nearly twice as much as the department requested earlier this year, before Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought.

Most households will have enough water, but the drought could result in a loss of more than $1 billion in crops.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in a Senate committee Tuesday.

Copyright 2015 KUOW