By MIKE CORN
TOPEKA -- Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday signed an executive order updating the continuing drought declaration for Kansas counties.
The update covers every Kansas county, more than half of them in emergency drought status.
Area counties in a drought emergency, the most severe category, are:
Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Gove, Graham, Logan, Ness, Norton, Rawlins, Rush, Russell, Sheridan, Sherman, Thomas, Trego and Wallace.
A step down are those counties in a drought warning: Osborne, Phillips, Rooks and Smith.
Those counties had recent rains, in some cases substantial amounts.
"Kansans need to know no matter where you live in the state, the drought is not over," Brownback said in a statement. "Some areas have been experiencing drought for almost five years. Continued below normal precipitation patterns are not only depleting the little soil moisture we have, but are resulting in below normal levels in our reservoirs and further decline of our stream-flow conditions."
The updated drought declaration moved 26 counties into a warning status and 23 into a watch status, while 56 counties are in emergency status.
The move was recommended by Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter, who also serves as chairman of the Governor's Drought Response Team.
"It is imperative we closely monitor conditions for the state as they could deteriorate quickly with no reserves as we start to enter warmer and drier months," Streeter said. "Some areas of Kansas are behind more than 7 inches in soil moisture, and the seasonal outlook shows increased drought conditions shifting farther east than originally projected."
Counties still in a water emergency stage remain eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes due to agreements between the Kansas Water Office and the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism.
The declaration also makes available some state resources, but it does little to resolve issues affecting communities.