Gov. Cox issues drought emergency order

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency due to the drought conditions affecting the state on Wednesday.

Utah has been in drought for eight of the last ten years and this winter’s snowpack is currently 25% below average.

The emergency declaration activates the Drought Response Committee and triggers increased monitoring and reporting. It also allows agricultural producers, harmed communities, and others to report needs.

“We’ve had a very volatile water year, and unfortunately, recent spring storms are not enough to make up the shortage in our snowpack,” Gov. Cox said in a statement. “Once again, I call on all Utahns – households, farmers, businesses, governments and other groups – to carefully consider their needs and reduce their water use. We saved billions of gallons last year and we can do it again.”

A roughly half-full Jordanelle Reservoir in Wasatch County on Monday. (Photo: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox)

At his monthly press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Cox said the order “sends a message” to both citizens and water districts. “This is an emergency situation… we all have to be thinking along those lines.”

Cox said that both state House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams were supportive of the move.

Water stats according to the Utah Department of Natural Resources:

  • 99.39% of the state is in severe drought or worse, with 43.46% of Utah in extreme drought.

  • 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.

  • Nineteen of Utah’s largest 45 reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity. Overall statewide storage is 59% of capacity. This time last year, reservoirs were about 67% of capacity.

  • Soil moisture is 4% higher compared to normal for this time of year. Wet soils are critical for effective spring runoff.

  • Of the 94 measured streams, 59 are flowing below normal despite spring runoff. Two  streams are flowing at record low conditions.

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