Inslee declares statewide drought emergency

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a statewide drought emergency, clearing the way for state officials to ramp up aid to those suffering hardships from water shortages.

Inslee says the state is already feeling the pain from historic low snowpack levels, with parts of the state severely hit.

State agriculture officials are estimating a loss of $1.2 billion in crops this year because of dry conditions. And state wildfire managers are expecting wildfires earlier in the season and at higher elevations than typical.

The governor in March first declared drought emergencies for three regions in the state, but then expanded that a month later to nearly half of the state.

Water managers in the Yakima Basin have already tapped reservoirs two months earlier than usual.

The state says some water managers in the Puget Sound regions, including Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, however, aren't anticipating water shortages.

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