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Douglas County drought leads to early water restrictions

With a severe drought order in place, the Oregon Water Resources Department is having to issue water restrictions earlier than normal.

Posted: Jul 26, 2018 6:10 PM
Updated: Jul 26, 2018 6:11 PM

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- In Douglas County there's an emergency drought order in place, and water restrictions have already started rolling out for farmers and ranchers. Governor Kate Brown signed the order in June.

With drought conditions expected to get worse as we go through summer, the Oregon Water Resources Department has started their annual water restrictions, and Umpqua Basin Watermaster Susan Douthit said they’re doing so about three weeks earlier than usual.

“Because it is so dry this year and so extreme, we are regulating streams that may not be involved in allocations or water distributions on an annual basis,” Douthit said.

This affects the people with newer water rights first, then goes up the ladder as needed.

One farmer KEZI 9 News talked to, Sharon Hunsaker, said for the most part, those farmers and ranchers that pull their main source of water from those streams are used to this happening on an annual basis.

“I think people around here kind of plan on that anyway because the water around here usually does get shut off around the middle of July, or maybe even the beginning of July, sometimes,” Hunsaker said. “I think we’re actually a little surprised we’re able to keep it on this long.”

Douthit said there are other options for when these restrictions are put in place.

“There are drought permits, perhaps you can put in a well, and that might be an option for you,” Douthit said. “Interestingly in Douglas County, there are two reservoirs that are available and still have water available for purchase.”

Those reservoirs are the Ben Irving Reservoir in the Tenmile area and the Galesville Reservoir near Azalea.

There aren’t any residential restrictions in place just yet, but you can help your area conserve water by watering your grass and plants a little less and taking shorter showers.

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