SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Thursday was another scorching day and a reminder that our heatwaves and recent dry winters have many of Utah’s reservoirs dropping to historic lows, an issue that could affect us for years to come.
It’s likely that the water coming out of your faucet was snow back in 2018 or 2019, because 2020 was so hot and dry that barely any Spring runoff made it into our reservoirs.
“We just did not receive runoff,” Darren Hess, of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District told ABC4 News. “That made soil moisture go so low that when our runoff did come this year, it basically filled up that soil moisture cavity and did not runoff into the river systems, did not runoff into our reservoirs.”
“It is very concerning,” Deputy Director Candice Hasenyager of the Utah Division of Water Resources said. “And it is right at our door.”
The Division of Water Resources says the state’s reservoir storage dropped from 61% last week to 59% this week. 26 of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity and one major reservoir near Manti is now completely dry.
“Gunnison is out of water,” Hasenyager said. “That is water that’s mainly for agricultural irrigation, but there are concerns throughout the Sevier River Basin. We have a lot of really low reservoir levels, some of the lowest: Piute, Otter Creek, Yuba are all really low, below I think 20% and then even up north we’re seeing really low levels up here. I was up at Rockport yesterday and it’s about 40% of normal and Echo is really low as well.”
Hasenyager explained that we’re OK for the rest of 2021, but next year, the DWR could prioritize the remaining reserves for drinking, sanitation, and firefighting, which could mean cuts to irrigation.
“It’s possible if we don’t see a good winter, we’ll have mandatory cuts on outdoor watering,” Hasenyager said. “Farmers have already been impacted significantly this year. Most of them received a 70% cut in their water allocations for the year, so it’s impacting everyone.”
For detailed information, go to: https://water.utah.gov/reservoirlevels/