Drought declaration issued for 34 of Idaho’s 44 counties

April 29, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Friday approved an emergency drought declaration for 34 of Idaho’s 44 counties.

The Republican governor signed off on the emergency drought declaration issued on Thursday by Idaho Department of Water Resources Director Gary Spackman. Ten counties asked for the declaration.

The emergency declaration allows temporary water rights changes for the rest of the year. It could also help with federal drought assistance. Under the drought emergency, the Water Resources Department is authorized to consider applications for the temporary changes.

The counties in the drought declaration cover the lower two-thirds of the state. Officials said all Idaho counties south of the Salmon River are experiencing below-normal snowpack conditions.

Additionally, streamflow forecasts in that area are 50% to 78% below average. Officials also said many reservoirs are well below capacity, increasing the chances they won’t fill.

The U.S. Drought Monitor Map published last week classified the 34 counties as being in moderate to severe drought, with most counties in severe drought.