PROVO (ABC4) – The drought and dry season in Utah County has officially reached emergency level conditions.
On Wednesday, Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee announced a state of emergency declaration in the area that will last through the year. The declaration was unanimously approved by the county commission, giving it an extended life, as opposed to declarations given solely by the commissioner.
According to a press release from Lee’s office, the declaration will put an emphasis on educating the public the severity of the drought and its potential impact on water usage and wildfires.
“I urge all Utah County residents to do their part to conserve water and help protect the health and safety of our residents by exercising common sense in preventing costly wildfires during these potentially dangerous times,” the statement from Lee read.
The declaration itself states that many factors have resulted in what could be one of the driest summers on record in the state. A low snowpack in the winter served as the first of a series of dominos that have fallen and could continue to fall through the remainder of 2021. Due to the lower-than-projected snowfall, the spring runoff was also lower than usual, impacting reservoir levels and soil conditions throughout the state.
A map of the state released by the U.S. Drought monitor on Thursday shows that much of Utah County is in exceptional drought intensity, with the rest of the area in a extreme drought intensity.
Utah County isn’t the only government entity preparing for a harshly dry summer. On May 26, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox announced the rollout of the “Fire Sense” awareness campaign.
“Where we’re starting from and where we’re going is not good,” Cox stated at the beginning of the press conference held in Salt Lake City’s City Creek Canyon.
Due to the dry conditions, the season is ripe for wildfires to spark in a manner of ways. Cox urged Utahns to be aware of the situation and to use good judgment and attentiveness while exploring the outdoors this summer. “I am asking, I am begging all Utahns to do their part to prevent wildfires,” Cox said at the program’s introductory press conference. The drought will also expectedly impact many of the state’s bodies of water. Lakes and reservoirs around Utah are critically below-average levels, which will affect recreation and other water activities during the warm months.
Governor Cox is concerned about the drought to the point that he asked all Utahns of faith to participate in a prayer for rain over the upcoming weekend.
“I’ve already asked all Utahns to conserve water by avoiding long showers, fixing leaky faucets, and planting water-wise landscapes. But I fear those efforts alone won’t be enough to protect us,” Gov. Cox says. “We need more rain and we need it now. We need some divine intervention. That’s why I’m asking Utahns of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer June 4 through the 6th.”