Gov. Cox declares state of emergency due to drought in Utah

Local News

FILE – In this July 16, 2014 file photo, what was once a marina sits high and dry due to Lake Mead receding in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. Extreme swings in weather are expected as part of a changing climate, something Brad Udall, a water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University, has called “weather whiplash.” The drought-stricken Southwest got a reprieve this year with average and above-average snowfall following a year that sent many states into extreme drought. Nearly empty reservoirs quickly rose, including Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the largest man-made reservoirs in the country that hold back Colorado River water. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – As 100% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, and 90% of the state experiencing extreme drought, Utah Governor Spencer Cox has issued an executive order, declaring a state of emergency in Utah.

According to a news release, the state of emergency will allow Utah communities affected by the drought to apply for more federal emergency resources.

“We’ve been monitoring drought conditions carefully and had hoped to see significant improvement from winter storms,” said Gov. Cox. “Unfortunately, we have not received enough snow to offset the dry conditions. I ask Utahns to evaluate their water use and find ways to save not only because of current drought conditions but also because we live in one of the driest states in the nation.” Gov. Cox said in a statement to ABC4.

According to the Governor’s office, Utah’s winter snowpack is about 70% of the average for this year. In order for the snowpack to reach average, officials say Utah’s mountains would need to receive the remaining 30% before it starts to melt.

According to Brian Steed, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Utah’s soil moisture is at its lowest levels since it began being monitored in 2006.

“Extremely dry soils mean that when we do receive precipitation, the ground will soak it up first and reduce the runoff that typically fills reservoirs, lakes and streams,” said Steed. “We urge people to consider ways they can save water and help be part of the solution. The state also offers water-saving and money-saving rebates to help with both indoor and outdoor conservation,” Steed added.

Gov. Cox is also calling for Utahns to practice wise water usage, using the following water-saving tips:

  • Fix leaks
  • Run full loads (dishwashers and washing machines)
  • Turn off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, soaping up, doing dishes or rinsing vegetables
  • Reduce showers by at least one minute
  • Wait to water
  • Plan now for the irrigation season and consider implementing water-wise landscaping or purchasing a smart irrigation controller

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