Portland State prepares for drought

Believe it or not Oregon has been experiencing low rainfall this year, culminating in a prediction for a potential drought this summer.

According to Roy Koch, director of Environment Science and Resources at Portland State, it is difficult to predict if Oregon will have a drought this summer because “drought is a relative thing,” but “probably yes.”

“This year will be drier than average,” Koch added.

Some parts of Oregon will be drier, while the Willamette River region will be less dry because these areas recieve more rainfall than other parts of Oregon.

Koch said Oregon has gotten 50 to 75 percent of the average rainfall from October 2000 to present. The Columbia Basin reservior is below average this year due to the shortage of rain compared to the previous years.

Drought will not generate as much river flow, resulting in low electricity productions. Koch pointed out that Oregon depends on the hydro-electric system to generate electricity whereas California uses a different power generator system. If there was a drought in California, the primarily concerns would be less water for agriculture and drinking.

But Oregon would face other consequences over potential drought, which include low flows in Oregon’s rivers, which in turn means less water for agriculture and bad conditions for the endangered salmons.

So, what is Portland State doing to conserve water? According to Brian Chase, director for Facilities and Auxillary Service at Portland State, the priority is cutting down the use of electricity.

“Our priority is cutting electric use, but wherever we can we are cutting back in excessive water consumption,” Chase said. “We are a relatively low user of water.”

Chase added that water is used primarily for bathrooms and some “wet labs” for science purposes. In addition, Chase said Portland State is increasing the use of well water on campus for landscaping and will repair leaks in older plumbing systems.