Severe drought causes Utah town to run out of drinking water

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LAKE POWELL, UT – MARCH 28: A bleached “bathtub ring” is visible on the rocky banks of Lake Powell on March 28, 2015 in Lake Powell, Utah. As severe drought grips parts of the Western United States, a below average flow of water is expected to enter Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two biggest reservoirs of the Colorado River Basin. Lake Powell is currently at 45 percent of capacity, a recent study predicts water elevation there to be above 3,575 by September. The Colorado River Basin supplies water to 40 million people in seven western states. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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UTAH (ABC4) – With recent wildfires plaguing many areas of Utah, the soil moisture and overall water levels have hit an all-time low.

The drastically low water levels have even caused the town of Schofield to completely run out of drinking water recently, according to the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The report says Schofield’s drinking water tank has run completely dry due to overuse and low spring water flows.

“The Division of Drinking Water has issued an emergency permit for the town to haul water
for residents as a short-term solution and will work with the town on long-term water
management strategies including infrastructure needs, like new well meters,” officials say.

In a recent drought report, the DNR and the DEQ say 31 out of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs are currently at below 55% capacity.

Officials say the state will need about 8.5 inches of rain just to restore precipitation levels back to “average.”

Current reservoir levels across the state of Utah (Courtesy of the Utah Department of Natural Resources)

Where exactly does Utah’s water source come from? Officials say 95% of Utah’s water comes from snowpack, which is snow that has fallen and accumulated, but not melted.

Reservoirs of all sizes are located throughout the state to catch and store any rainfall or snowpack runoff to prevent water shortages for residents.

But as long as Utah experiences low rainfall, residents are at a constant threat of water shortage due to overuse.

“We have been fortunate over the last month to receive significant precipitation that has
increased streamflows and soil moisture,” says Brian Steed, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. “If we can maintain wetter soils heading into the winter
months, it improves our situation next spring. It will take time and the right conditions to rebuild the storage we have been using this summer.”

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