Criteria must be met for drought declaration

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According to the state Department of Ecology, Gov. Chris Gregoire is being advised on drought conditions by two committees comprised of state and federal agencies.

One is the Water Supply Availability Committee and the second is the governor's Water Emergency Committee.

Two criteria must exist before these committees recommend the governor authorize Ecology to issue a drought emergency declaration anywhere in the state:

An area's water supply is 75 percent of normal or less or is projected to drop to 75 percent or less.

Water users in the area will likely incur undue hardships as a result of the shortage.

Once these conditions are met, a drought emergency declaration could be issued to release state relief funds. These funds can be used for grants and loans for more than 30 types of drought-relief projects. If no drought emergency is declared, $4.2 million requested by the governor from the Legislature for drought-relief projects will not be spent for any other purpose.

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