Drought emergency extended statewide
Wisconsin's state-of-emergency for the current drought has been expanded to all 72 counties. Until now, only the southern half of the state was affected, but Governor Scott Walker extended the emergency status yesterday.
He told Wisconsin Emergency Management to coordinate the state's response to the drought - and Walker told all state agencies to help out with the recovery efforts. Walker's declaration also speeds up the DNR's process for letting farmers divert water from lakes-and-streams if it doesn't cause serious environmental damage.
But many farmers don't have the equipment for such diversions, and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp recently said many lakes are losing water as it is.
In extending the emergency, Walker cited new forecasts for continued dry-and-hot weather, agricultural losses, and an increase in wildfires. The DNR has responded to over 300 wildfires since the beginning of June, and over 50 counties have at least a moderate fire danger.
Southern Wisconsin had severe thunderstorms last night, and there's a chance for more rain today. But Weather Service officials say the state would need days of steady, soaking rains to catch up from its moisture shortfalls.