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Washington drought leads to emergency declaration

ALDER, Wash. (AP) — The governor declared a statewide drought emergency two weeks after an earthquake created a disaster area in the northwestern part of the state.

Gov. Gary Locke's declaration gives the state new tools and money to help farms and fish survive what he predicted could be the driest year on record. Reservoirs, rivers and snowpacks are at about half-normal levels for this time of year.

"This is already the worst drought in our state since 1977, and it's only March," Locke said Wednesday. "We'll probably beat that record soon."

Locke's declaration is meant in part to speed up the process of granting water transfers, making it easier for water rights to be transferred from one city to another or one farmer to another.