Monsoonal season helping Southern Utah soils amid drought

Utah Drought
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ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Washington County Water Conservancy District’s Zachary Renstrom says this monsoonal season is making a positive impact on drought conditions in the county, but they are still seeing declining water levels in reservoirs.

Monsoonal rains are exactly what Renstrom has been hoping for after two years of record breaking dry soil conditions.

“Our soils have to have so much moisture in them before we get runoff from the snow melt, and the last two years, our soils have been really really dry,” he says.

Renstrom says after recent rain and flash floods, Washington County soils are finally gathering moisture.

“These monsoonal rains will go and dump water into those soils, and then this fall when we have a snow pack, that water will end up in the reservoir, where in the last two years, we haven’t had a lot of runoff because the soils have been so dry,” says Renstrom.

He says earlier this year, the water district’s soil sensors were picking up 0% moisture.

“All of a sudden, those numbers are starting to increase quite rapidly, and so it’s really good to see that. Unfortunately, we have had damage from the flooding, the monsoonal rains, and that is a very sad situation, but from a water provider’s standpoint, it’s been very helpful,” he says.

Renstrom says the middle of the summer usually puts a big demand on the district, but that’s not the case after recent storms.

“Our local residents do an excellent job in turning off their sprinklers, so the demand at the water treatment plans decreases almost instantly,” he says.

But a concern still lingers in his mind: the low reservoir levels.

“Even with these monsoonal rains, the sites that we use to determine what our water availability is, they are still 10 inches below average, so we’re still in a large deficit,” he says.

Renstrom says while this is good news for now, residents need to continue conserving water so the reservoirs can hold out until the snow arrives.

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