The Pacific Northwest Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) region includes the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and the western portion of Montana that feeds into the Columbia River Basin. In February of 2016 NIDIS joined with federal, tribal, state and local partners and stakeholders to host the Pacific Northwest DEWS Kickoff Meeting in Portland, Oregon to officially launch the PNW DEWS.
In advance of the 2016 launch, stakeholder feedback was collected at two regionally focused drought outlooks, as well as a listening session on November 4, 2015 at the 6th annual Northwest Climate Conference in Couer d’Alene, ID. A background summary of the activities leading up to the launch, partners and stakeholders is here. Outcomes from the DEWS development process will be used to develop a strategic plan to direct activities throughout the first two years of the PNW DEWS.
Activities and Resources to Support Drought Early Warning
- PNW DEWS Strategic Plan: This plan is under development and will be available during the summer of 2016. It will provide a framework of priority actions to further develop and implement the PNW DEWS over the next two years.
- SECURE Water Act Report – Reclamation Climate Change and Water 2016: The Department of Interior (DOI), the Bureau of Reclamation and its state and local partners developed a basin-by-basin report that characterizes the impacts of climate change and details adaptation strategies to better protect major river basins in the West. The report shows several increased risks to western U.S. water resources in the 21st century including specific chapters on the Columbia and Klamath River Basins.
- Climate Engine is an “on-demand” cloud computing and visualization of climate and remote sensing data resource. Climate Engine enables users to analyze and interact with climate and land surface environmental monitoring datasets in real-time to improve decision making related to drought, water sustainability, agricultural productivity, wildfire, and ecological health.
- Oregon State Agencies to Plan for Water Resiliency: In July of 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order 15-09 directing state agencies to reduce all non-essential water use in all state-owned facilities by an average of 15 percent or more by 2020 and work with private building owners who lease facilities to state agencies to reduce non-essential water consumption at their buildings. EO 15-09 also directed an update to the Drought Annex to the State of Oregon Emergency Operations Plan and stipulated that long-term drought resiliency planning should also be addressed in the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) 2017 update to the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. OWRD delivered the first status update to the Governor in this report.
- Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Estimating Agricultural Economic Losses During the 2015 Drought: WSDA issued an interim report analyzing the economic impact of the 2015 drought on Washington’s agricultural industry. Initial estimates total losses of $335 million and are expected to increase as the drought affected the quality and quantity of some Washington crops going to market in coming months.
- Washington State Department of Ecology Analyzes 2014-2015 Groundwater Level/Storage Response: A review of 2015 drought impacts brought surprising insights into Washington’s water supplies. While surface water creeks and rivers have bounced back as of March 2016, an overall decline in groundwater is being seen as illustrated by a special groundwater story map developed by the Washington Department of Ecology.
- Streamflow Responses in Western U.S. to the 2015 Drought: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic technicians are currently studying hundreds of rivers and streams throughout the western U.S. as part of a low flow study to provide information to resources managers to help them understand how streams respond to drought and plan for future drought impacts. Data is currently being compiled and analyzed and a summary report is expected in late 2016.
- Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Washington Department of Ecology have used the Secure Waters Act of 2008 to authorize federal water and science agencies to work together with state and local water manages to plan for climate change and other threats to water supplies, and take actions to secure water resources for Yakima River Basin communities, economies and ecosystems.
- Pacific Northwest Drought Early Warning System Kickoff Meeting, February 2-3, 2016
- Wildfire and Drought: Impacts on Wildfire Planning, Behavior and Effects. A report from the “Integrating Drought Science and Information into Wildfire Management Workshop”, held in Boise, Idaho, October 2015.
- Pacific Northwest Coastal Drought Outlook, September 22, 2015
- Pacific Northwest Inland Drought Outlook, May 4, 2015
- Western States Drought Coordinators and Emergency Managers Meeting, July 2015
- International Columbia Basin Climate and Hydrology Assessment Workshop, Jan 15-16, 2014