Drought still a concern for Utah Department of Water Resources .

LOGAN – Despite the recent moisture Cache Valley has recently received, the drought throughout the state is still a concern for the Utah Department of Natural resources. Low snowpack continues to stress the state’s natural resources impacting wildlife, rangeland, recreation and the state’s reservoir storage.

Some farmers and ranchers in Utah and other drought-ravaged Western states are eligible for emergency government loans linked to the USDA declaring 256 counties as natural disaster areas. Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows 99% of the state is in the second and third-worst categories: severe and extreme drought. Utah’s reservoir levels are 10% lower than they were at this time last year.

Cache Valley reservoirs are stacking up so far to have the same water storage as a year ago.

David Sanchez, the spokesman of Utah Water Resources, said average reservoir water storage is at 61 percent of capacity in Cache Valley.

“As of May 1, Bear Lake is 56 percent of capacity, Hyrum reservoir is 96 percent capacity and Porcupine reservoir is at 74 percent of capacity. Newton reservoir struggling the most at 39 percent,” Sanchez said. “The drought is on everybody’s mind. It is a good time for everyone to do their part to conserve water.”

Brian Steed, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, is worried about the dry conditions and wildfires this year.

“Our lands are tinder dry, and with May and June forecasted to be hotter and drier than previous years, we are also gearing up for a challenging wildfire season,” Steed said. “We need people to continue to conserve to stretch our limited water supply and exercise good Fire Sense to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.”

The Great Salt Lake typically drops a little over two feet each summer. With a current elevation of 4191.1, this would mean the lake could hit a new historic low.

The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources reported the ongoing drought has significantly impacted deer survival rates, so the Utah Wildlife Board voted to decrease the number of general-season deer permits issued. A total of 73,075 general-season deer hunting permits will be issued, a 950-permit decrease from the previous year.

Statewide snow water equivalent (SWE), or how much water would be in the snowpack if it melted, peaked at 12 inches. This is 75% of the typical median peak of 16 inches for our water year.

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