Gov. Justice issues State of Emergency over drought conditions

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WHSV) — Governor Jim Justice has declared a State of Emergency for the entirety of West Virginia due to drought conditions across the state.

Over the past 90 days, Justice said West Virginia has received 2-5 inches less rainfall than normal, with some areas facing deficits of up to 7 inches of rain in the southern half of the state.

Due to the lack of rainfall, rivers, lakes and streams are at extremely low levels, harvest season has been hit hard for farmers, there's been limited water supply for livestock, and the risk of forest fires has skyrocketed.

For those reasons, Justice issued a proclamation on Oct. 3 declaring a State of Emergency.

Late in September, Justice issued a statewide burn ban, which officially banned all outdoor burning in West Virginia until further notice, with limited exceptions.

You can learn more about the burn ban here.

The State of Emergency means that state officials are all directed to

• Implement the West Virginia Emergency Operations Plan as it relates to drought emergency response.
• Place the state Emergency Operations Center in a stand-by status, unless activation is deemed necessary and appropriate.
• Restrict the use of water for the purposes of dust control at construction and industrial sites, except as required under terms of permits issued for the same.
• Monitor existing water sources for the presence of contaminants, including harmful algae blooms, which tend to propagate more readily in warmer and shallower waters.

Justice also issued voluntary guidelines for state residents, including to

• Cease non-agricultural irrigation in the state, including those for strictly recreational purposes.
• Limit washing or cleaning vehicles and/or structures where not otherwise required by law.
• Limit use of public drinking water systems to minimal standards for good personal hygiene, food preparation, laundry, livestock, and pets, and other reasonable purposes.
• Cease the filling of private swimming pools.

The State of Emergency will remain in effect until Justice issues another proclamation rescinding it.

Drought conditions are forecast to escalate in coming days around the Mountain State.