State government response to drought is necessary as Oregon faces unprecedented drought, threatening community health and wellbeing, economies, ecosystems, and quality of life

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today issued Executive Order 21-20, directing state agencies to curtail nonessential water use, implement water conservation measures, and encourage drought resiliency. The directive comes as a result of 19 Oregon counties already in declared drought emergencies, and the rest of Oregon facing threats of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

“Oregon has a strong history of managing and caring for water, but climate change and chronic drought require water conservation and a commitment to working together,” said Governor Brown. “Many state agencies already have taken steps to improve the sustainability of their operations, including actions to reduce water usage. Through this Executive Order, state government can respond to this growing crisis, lead by example, and show Oregonians that drought is a serious issue—but one that can be managed if we all work together. At the same time, it is critically important that we keep in mind how curbing water in public places may affect vulnerable Oregonians who may turn to public sources of water for relief from hot weather, and adjust as appropriate.

“Many local governments have also curtailed water use on city and county facilities. I appreciate their leadership and encourage all local governments in drought-stricken counties to conserve water and begin implementing drought resiliency strategies as we face a worsening drought together.

“Oregonians can do their part, as well. I encourage everyone to be conscious of water usage and to take steps to reduce water use whenever possible.”

The Executive Order, effective today, directs state agencies that own or manage land or facilities to:

  • Implement actions that curtail or end the non-essential use of water for landscaping and other exterior features of buildings and grounds, including lawn watering, fountains that do not re-circulate water, and window washing;
  • Institute a moratorium (where allowed) on the installation of new non-essential landscaping projects that require irrigation at state-owned buildings; and
  • Develop and place signs and other messaging within state-owned buildings to encourage state employees to reduce their non-essential uses of water inside state-owned buildings.  

The full text of Executive Order 21-20 is available here.



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