More areas of Utah downgraded from ‘extreme’ to ‘severe’ drought after recent rains

Great Salt Lake Water Levels
Water levels in the Great Salt Lake reached historic lows after months of drought conditions across the state of Utah. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

UTAH, Sept. 2, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — More areas of Utah have been downgraded from “extreme” to “severe” drought after recent weather, officials said Thursday.

“Recent rains and cooler temperatures have helped improve soil conditions and downgraded more areas of the state from ‘extreme’ drought to ‘severe’ drought,” said a news release from the Utah Department of Natural Resources. “More than 88% of the state is now in ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ drought compared to 98.75% last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.”

Changing conditions have also reduced outdoor watering demand. As a result, reservoir levels stayed steady the past two weeks, the news release said. Rain does little to refill reservoirs, with about 95% of Utah’s water coming from snowpack.

“We used stored water this summer, essentially depleting our reserves,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed. “It will take wet soils, steady storms and a great snowpack to help make up the water deficit.”

Extreme drought watering recommendations have been in place this summer: three times a week for southern Utah and two times a week for northern Utah. But with longer nights and dropping temperatures, those recommendations are changing. Check the Weekly Lawn Watering Guide for customized recommendations in each county. These recommendations are based on extensive data and simplified into how many days per week to water, the news release said.

Other notable changes for this week include:

  • The Weber-Morgan Health Department has issued a harmful algal bloom warning advisory for the middle inlet day use area at Pineview Reservoir. In Zion National Park, the North Fork of the Virgin River and North Creek remain under warning advisories, while La Verkin Creek remains under a health watch.
  • Secondary water systems that deliver untreated irrigation water used on lawns and gardens are starting to shut down early due to a lack of supply.
  • Thirty-two of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity compared with 31 last week. Utah Lake decreased slightly to below 55%. Overall statewide storage is 51% of capacity, the same as last week.
  • Of the 98 measured streams, 46 flowed below normal this week compared to 31 last week because of heavy rain.
  • Boat ramp closures remain the same as last week, with 11 closures at nine state parks, including Jordanelle, Antelope Island, Echo, Hyrum, Millsite, Piute, Rockport, Willard Bay and Yuba. However, at least one additional closure is expected. Gunlock is scheduled to close its boat ramp by this weekend. Caution advisories have been issued for seven additional state park boat ramps. View conditions here.

 

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