Utah is a historically dry state, but 2021 has been particularly dry.
87.6% of Utah is experiencing extreme drought, and 19.4% is experiencing exceptional drought, according to the Nationally Integrated Drought Information System, or NIDIS. And according to NIDIS, 100% of the population in Salt Lake County is affected by the drought.
According to the Utah Division of Water Resources, this drought is different. The snowpack in the winter greatly affected the water levels in the summer.
The snowpack in the Wasatch Range hit a maximum of 81% and peaked 10 days early. This, combined with only a half inch of precipitation in May, set the stage for the drought Utah is experiencing now.
Reservoirs around Utah rely heavily on runoff from the snowpack to fill them for the summer. These reservoirs provide precious water for agriculture and public use.
In an effort to conserve water, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order on June 8 which restricted lawn water use at state facilities. This order restricted some state facilities to only water their lawn two days a week.
Coinciding with this order, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, or UDAF, launched an Emergency Disaster Relief Program. The relief program could give agribusiness loans up to $100,000 to help cover losses from the drought.
“This loan program will be able to cover crop losses, livestock feed, livestock losses due to death, or losses due to producers having to sell livestock,” said Craig Buttars, commissioner of UDAF.
Unfortunately, the weather is out of the public’s control. What is not out of the public’s control is how they react to the drought.
Brad Rippey from the U.S Department of Agriculture suggests a few ways to help conserve water:
Water less: As temperatures start to cool, it’s time to cut back your lawn watering even more. Check the Weekly Lawn Watering Guide for current recommendations.
Prioritize your watering: Water trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals before grass. Grass is tough. It will enter dormancy during times of drought and will bounce back.
Raise your mower: Set your blades to 3 to 4 inches. Taller grass means deeper roots.
“Reflection Canyon Aerial” by Jaykhuang is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/