northwest water

Every five years, a team convenes to evaluate long-term water supply and demand for the Columbia River Basin. For eastern Washington, the water supply will increase, but not when demand is highest.

Oregon schools could soon be required to test for the presence of lead in drinking water, paint and even dirt. That's according to a set of rules proposed Tuesday by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. It adds to a list that already included radon and other chemicals.

Early this winter, skiers in the Northwest were excited. But then after about Christmas things turned dour. The once-epic snowpack is now long gone. In Washington state, it melted down in record time to less than half of average for early June.

And there hasn’t been much rain this spring either. The Cascades, Olympics and Blues are all hurting.

Thanks to a wet winter, the Bonneville Power Administration says this will be a “normal” water year for the northwest. That’s an improvement over last year.

April 1 is, on average, generally considered the date of the peak snowpack in the Northwest. And around now, is when many irrigation districts begin filling their canals to get ready for watering season.

There are grounds for optimism as well as caution.

Across the West, groundwater reserves are being depleted. Nature can’t replenish the aquifers as quickly as they’re being drawn down for irrigation, industry and drinking water.