Washington farmers, wildlife managers brace for drought

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SEATTLE (AP) — Farmers, growers and wildlife managers in Washington are preparing for the worst drought in a decade as conditions are expected to worsen this summer.

Some irrigators are deciding to forgo watering crops or pastures for all or part of the season. Others are seeking permission to tap emergency wells. And an irrigation district serving nearly 2,000 users in the Yakima area has turned off the water for several weeks to save it for later.

Unlike drought-stricken California, where mandatory restrictions are in place, rainfall was normal this winter. Water managers in cities such as Seattle and Spokane have a good supply in reservoirs and aquifers.

But record low mountain snowpack means there’s not much to replenish streams and rivers when migrating fish and farmers will need it most this summer.

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