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Inslee issues emergency drought declaration, proclamations tied to extreme heat, firefighting

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Inslee issues emergency drought declaration,

proclamations tied to extreme heat, firefighting

Gov. Jay Inslee authorized the state Department of Ecology to issue an emergency drought declaration for most of the state last Wednesday.

A historically dry spring and summer, followed by a record-breaking heat wave, have affected water supplies across Washington. The only areas excluded from the emergency declaration are Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.

A drought emergency means water supply is projected to be below 75 percent of average, and there is a risk of undue hardship to water users and uses. A formal drought declaration authorizes Ecology to take certain measures for the purpose of providing emergency drought relief:

  • Expedite processing for emergency drought permits;
  • Process temporary transfers of water rights;
  • Provide funding assistance for public entities;
  • Hold public education workshops

The governor also amended the state's partial burn ban to now also suspend the statutory truck driver hour limitations, to address the interruption in fuel distribution to firefighters. It will also allow the National and State Guard to assist firefighters. The governor also declared an emergency in 18 counties due to heat damage to roads and infrastructure. This will trigger Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans and allow for local coordination to assist in addressing the damage in an expedited manner.

The impacts of the drought and extreme heat have been worsened by climate change, according to researchers.

"Our state and its 7.6 million residents are under attack from climate change; it touches every part of our lives right now. It is menacing our world and our way of life in ways that demand and compel our full attention right now," Inslee said. "It's a wave that is breaking on us right now and that's why you could easily call this the summer of climate change.

Proclamations Relating to

Wildfires, Extreme Temps

Gov. Inslee issued two emergency proclamations Friday relating to the climate crisis; one update to a previously issued proclamation regarding wildfires, and a new proclamation declaring a state of emergency in 19 counties due to heat damage from recent extreme temperatures.

Proclamation 21-10.1: This proclamation amends the Wildfire/Burn Ban proclamation to now also suspend the statutory truck driver hour limitations. This is needed to address the interruption in fuel distribution to firefighters. It will also allow the National and State Guard to assist firefighters.

Proclamation 21-12: This proclamation declares an emergency in 19 counties due to heat damage to roads and infrastructure. This will trigger Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans and allow for local coordination to assist in addressing the damage in an expedited manner.

Related to COVID-19 Pandemic

Gov. Jay Inslee gave advance notice of the termination of two proclamations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Advance notice is provided to give stakeholders time to adjust their procedures.

Proclamation 20-51: This proclamation waives/suspends laws that created barriers to holding community association meetings remotely and also waives/suspends statutes that permit the imposition and collection of fees for late payment of community assessments. This proclamation will expire at 11:59 pm July 24.

This session the Legislature passed SB 5011, which will allow electronic meeting and notice provisions for community associations. The bill goes into effect July 25.

Proclamation 20-82: This proclamation delayed implementation of SB 5323, which passed the Legislature in the 2020 session and established a statewide prohibition on retailers' issuance of single-use plastic bags. The delay was necessary due to supply issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This proclamation will expire at 11:59 pm Sept. 30, upon its expiration the plastic bag ban as passed by the legislature will go into effect.

Higher Education

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an update to the emergency order addressing institutions of higher education (IHEs), proclamation 20-12.

The updated order removes the requirement that IHEs obtain an attestation of vaccination status from non-vaccinated students and makes other technical changes. The order goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect until rescinded or otherwise amended. These changes are being made at the request of state community and technical colleges in order to simplify administrative procedures.

Outdoor Childcare

Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation to correct a short-term gap in statutory authority for licensing outdoor preschools.

In 2017, the Legislature directed the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to establish a four-year pilot project to operate outdoor nature-based early learning and child care programs. The pilot was successful, and during the 2021 session, the Legislature passed SB 5151 permanently authorizing DCYF to issue outdoor child care licenses as part of its regular licensing program.

This proclamation bridges a gap between the expiration of the pilot program on June 30, and the effective date for permanent authority beginning on July 25.


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