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Celebrate rain, prepare for drought

Posted by Jen Coleman at Mar 07, 2014 12:30 PM |

Three cheers for rain and snow relieving a dry winter! Dry times are a part of our climate future; see tips for living green in dry times.

Three cheers for spring snow and rain!


Spring rainIt’s offering some relief in our unusually dry winter, bringing some “severe” areas into “moderate” drought range. Fingers crossed, March and April will build up our well-below-average snow pack, which would be good for summer stream flows and life-saving water for those who face the worst drought effects: farmers, ranchers and fish. 

Oregon is no stranger to dry summer conditions—but climate change will mean less snowpack leading to water scarcity. So no matter how this year shapes up, it’s worth knowing how drought might affect your summer and how to do your part to help our state weather dry times. 


dry Klamath

When water sources shrink, we can expect migrating birds to shift their travel patterns, wildlife to seek out scarce water sources and plants to respond to dry conditions. Fish that depend on cool waters will be under stress and more vulnerable. Hunters and fishers can take steps to be responsible to wildlife in drought conditions. Bird watchers can keep track of patterns here. Mushroom foragers can take a tip from last year’s reports on drought effects. 

Outdoor hazards

Without rain to clear away soot and smog, air quality can be a health hazard in a drought; wildfire smoke can make problems worse. People with asthma in particular should be aware of air quality advisories. It’s also a good idea to watch out for harmful algae blooms that can be toxic to dogs and swimmers.


crater lake jumping small

Campers can do their part to cut the risk of wildfires. Kayakers and river rafters can take advantage of Oregon’s information resources to keep track of river levels and conditions. 

After all that—aren’t you glad it’s raining? See the drought outlook for the season.

Drought map 2014

Even when it’s wet out, it makes good sense to use water wisely. It takes energy to filter, heat and deliver water. So saving water is saving energy, and saving energy is reducing pollution, and reducing climate pollution

will stave off the worst weather extremes in the future. Brilliant! Here are some water-saving resources you can take advantage of right now: 


Drought-tolerant plants are always a good idea: check out Water-Efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley.  Also check out water-smart gardening tips for all regions. 

Good water habits

LYR child

These little water saving habits from our Love Your River series treat water as the precious resources it is. Challenge yourself: what habits can you pick up that become as unconscious as turning off the stove or locking the front door?

Easy solutions

Changing habits is the good, hard work—so give yourself a break! Energy Trust offers a free energy and water-saving kit that, once installed, will save water without you even having to think about it. Also check out more low and no-cost tips here.

The big picture

Oregon Environmental Council is committed to keeping the big picture in mind: what do we really need, in order to protect the Oregon we love for today and future generations? We are working for big, transformative solutions to the big problems of climate change and water management. You can be part of it when you make a membership gift and join our Action Alert network. 

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