Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently expanded the drought emergency declaration to cover nearly half of Washington state due to worsened, poor water supply conditions around the state, and warmer and drier weather predictions through the summer.

Snow pack conditions are currently less than 50 percent of average for this time of year. Washington State Department of Ecology experts expect the warmer, drier weather will cause the already-diminished snow pack to melt more quickly, reducing water availability this summer when it is needed most for farms, communities, and fish. Despite this past week’s rain, rainfall totals for the state remain below normal.

The following 24 watersheds are now added to the emergency drought declaration:

Chelan, Colville, Cowlitz, Deschutes, Elwha-Dungeness, Entiat, Grays-Elochoman, Kennedy-Goldsborough, Kettle, Lower Chehalis, Lower Skagit-Samish, Lower Yakima, Lyre-Hoko, Naches, Nooksack, Queets-Quinault, Quilcene-Snow, Skokomish-Dosewallips, Soleduc, Stillaguamish, Upper Chehalis, Upper Skagit, Wenatchee, and Willapa.

Inslee said in declaration that the shortage creates a strong possibility of undue hardship for water users, including agricultural irrigators, as well as municipal and community public drinking water systems. Reduced stream-flows in these watersheds could cause deleterious effects on fisheries. He added, “I encourage the Department of Ecology to coordinate with other state agencies, federal agencies, tribes, and water users to help protect our important human, economic, and natural resources.”