State concerned about below average snowpack

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The state of Washington has not yet declared a drought this year, but they're asking the Legislature for $9 million for drought relief in case it's needed.

The Department of Ecology says snowpack level statewide is about 28 percent of normal.

It says areas of concern include the Yakima Basin, the Lower Columbia, Olympic Peninsula and South and Central Puget Sound.

The Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper says ( snowpack in the Yakima Basin is 31 percent of normal. But the region's five reservoirs are nearly full.

Ecology also says water supplies for main stem of the Columbia River are expected to be at 89 percent of average for the irrigation season.

Drought money, if approved, could be used to help drill emergency wells, lease water rights or build pumps or pipelines.

The last statewide drought was declared in March 2005.