Oregon battles historic drought conditions

“When the agricultural community is struggling that means that their products are in higher demand which means we could see high prices for some of those kind of things that we use on a daily basis."

Posted: Aug 27, 2021 8:52 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2021 11:35 AM

SUTHERLIN, Ore. -- Oregon is undergoing a historic drought with more than three quarters of the state under extreme or exceptional conditions. That includes a significant portion of Western Oregon.

Experts say parts of Lane and Douglas counties have been moving into the exceptional category over the past few weeks.

Oregon State University climatologist Larry O'Neill said this drought is the culmination of several years of below-average precipitation. He says this has been the second driest spring and summer in recorded history.

It's even forced communities like Sutherlin to put restrictions in place to conserve water throughout the summer, according to Robert Rippy, district manager for the Sutherlin Water Control District.

"This is the first time that I know of that the city of Sutherlin has had to go on water restrictions, which means they can't water their lawn, they can't wash their cars," Rippy said.

Those restrictions are now lifted, but people should still do their best to conserve water, Rippy said.

These extreme conditions have also impacted farmers across the state with experts saying yields in some areas are more than 30% lower than on an average year.

That's partly because the irrigation season in many places began much earlier than usual and is expected to end earlier as well, according to experts.

The lack of precipitation has also caused the moisture in the soil to dry up, creating even more difficult conditions for crops to grow.

The Watermaster for both Douglas and Coos counties, Susan Douthit, says this is an issue that affects all of us, not just those working on the farms.

“When the agricultural community is struggling that means that their products are in higher demand which means we could see high prices for some of those kind of things that we use on a daily basis," Douthit said.​

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