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May 24, 2012
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Douglas County on drought watch

The Nevada Drought Response Committee has placed Douglas and five other counties on drought watch. Lyon and Storey counties are on drought alert, according to information released on Thursday.

All Nevada counties are either on drought alert or drought watch with 11 counties classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor as under severe drought and six counties under moderate drought. The committee is organizing and activating three regional task forces to address the drought impacts in local and regional areas to begin gathering information about local plans, needs, vulnerabilities and available resources.

The committee, made up of representatives Nevada State Climate Office of the University of Nevada, Reno, Division of Emergency Management and Division of Water Resources, identified the following counties as currently being in Drought Alert (Stage 2): Churchill, Clark, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Pershing, Storey, Washoe and White Pine. The following counties were identified as being in Drought Watch (Stage 1): Carson, Douglas, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral and Nye.

The Northwestern Nevada Drought Task Force will address drought-related issues in Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Mineral, Storey, and Washoe counties. The Central Eastern Nevada Drought Task Force will address issues in Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Pershing, and White Pine counties. The Southern Nevada Task Force will address isues in Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, and Nye counties.

"Activating the regional task forces will help us to monitor conditions in each county as we move into the dry summer season," Kate Berry, associate professor in the Department of Geography and acting Nevada State Climatologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, said. "There are many variables, differing in each region, which must be considered."

The drought task forces will gather data to assess actual and projected impacts on the state's economy, urban, agriculture, fish and wildlife or other resources in the areas impacted by the drought. Factors under consideration include meteorological, hydrological, agricultural and socioeconomic conditions.

The task forces will report regularly to the Drought Response Committee with details concerning the drought extent, magnitude and impacts and provide information about drought mitigation measures being taken by public agencies or private individuals or organizations.

The drought notification process is outlined in the newly revised Nevada State Drought Response Plan.

"The plan clarifies and updates the approach to interagency coordination in responding to drought in the state," said Berry, who spearheaded the initiative to update the drought response plan, which had not been revised since 2003. "Following Nevada's dry winter, the plan offers a fresh approach to analyzing and responding to these dry conditions across the state."

Under the new response plan, the highest level of drought is Stage 3, Emergency Drought Stage. In this stage, the Drought Response Committee determines whether a critical situation exists or when it becomes obvious that existing state resources and strategies are insufficient to deal with the growing problems and needs. The committee then makes a recommendation to the governor for official drought declaration. The Emergency Drought declaration may be a trigger point for federal resources and activation of the state's Emergency Operations Center. 

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The Record Courier Updated May 24, 2012 08:43PM Published May 24, 2012 08:38PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.