SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 21, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utahns planning on recreating this Pioneer Day weekend are being warned to check on conditions and closures as a result of worsening drought conditions.
“Extreme drought conditions are negatively impacting reservoir levels, recreation and water quality,” said a news release from the Utah Division of Water Resources. As Pioneer Day and the long holiday weekend approach, those venturing outdoors, particularly to lakes and reservoirs, are encouraged to check current conditions before hitting the road, the news release said.
“The Pioneer Day weekend is traditionally one of Utah’s busiest outdoor recreation periods,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed. “With low reservoir levels, it’s essential for families heading to our lakes and reservoirs to take extra precautions before visiting and while playing. Check for boat ramp closures and advisories, wear a life jacket and be aware of harmful algal bloom conditions.”
Utahns recreating this weekend should note:
- Decreasing reservoir levels are leading to more boat ramp closures. Seven boat ramps are currently closed at six state parks, including Willard Bay, Echo, Millsite, Yuba, Piute and Antelope Island. Caution advisories have been issued for six additional parks. Get up to date information before heading to the lake or reservoir here.
- Lower water levels may also expose additional navigation hazards and decrease the amount of boatable water. Boat operators should keep their distance from other recreators and never operate above a wakeless speed within 150 feet of swimmers, docks and boats.
- More harmful algal blooms, or HABs, are being reported this year due to low water levels and warmer than normal temperatures A lake-wide warning advisory has been issued for Utah Lake by Utah County Health Department. Current state-wde HAB status can be found here.
- Reservoir storage statewide continues to drop and now averages 56%, down from 58% last week. Twenty-eight of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity. Red Fleet, Smith & Morehouse and Bear Lake all dropped below 55%. Due to heavy rain, Lower Enterprise rebounded above 55%.
- Current statewide reservoir levels are now lower than they were at the end of last year’s irrigation season in October; 56% now compared to 61% in October 2020. There are about three months remaining in the irrigation season when water use is traditionally at its peak.
- On July 19, the elevation of the Great Salt Lake tied the previous historic low, 4191.4 feet, recorded in 1963. The Division of Water Resources uses the daily averages rather than the instantaneous readings recorded every 15 minutes.