Phillips Reservoir

This view from a drone, taken in late November 2020, shows Phillips Reservoir in the Sumpter Valley between Baker City and Sumpter. The reservoir, which supplies irrigation water to Baker Valley farms and ranches, was holding about 5,500 acre-feet of water when the photo was taken. Today the reservoir is impounding about 14,500 acre-feet — approximately 19% of its capacity.

Last year Baker County declared a drought disaster when summer was on the wane.

In 2021 the drought situation is dire while spring has barely begun.

On Wednesday morning, April 7, the Baker County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution declaring a drought disaster in the county and asking both Gov. Kate Brown and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to follow suit.

State and federal drought declarations could make county property owners eligible for financial aid and other assistance, and give state water regulators more flexibility in allocating water.

Baker County could become the second of Oregon’s 36 counties to have a state drought declaration.

Brown on March 31 declared a drought in Klamath County, the first such declaration of 2021.

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