SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is urging Utahns to join in prayer this weekend for an end to the state's drought emergency.
In a video statement released Thursday, the governor asked Utahns of all faiths to join in collective prayer for rain.
"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 said on the video. "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."
The governor issued a state of emergency due to drought earlier this year. The Utah State Legislature extended it. The ongoing drought threatens Utah's food supply and agriculture and wildlife and natural habitats. Fire risk is now considered so high, there has been discussion of an all-out fireworks ban.
"By praying collaboratively and collectively, asking God or whatever higher power you believe in for more rain, we may be able to escape the deadliest aspects of the continued drought," the governor said.
The call was echoed by Utah Agriculture Commissioner Craig Buttars.
"Utah’s farmers and ranchers are being severely impacted by the extreme drought this year. They do all they can to conserve water each year, but in years like this, their efforts are not enough. Thank you for your support and we encourage all to participate in the weekend of prayer with us," he said in a statement.
Zach Frankel, the executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, called for more policy changes.
"There’s nothing wrong with prayer but there’s a suite of state policies we could implement to address this drought which are being ignored," he said in an email, adding: "We just lowered our statewide water conservation goal to reduce municipal water use by 0.5% per year while other western communities are reducing their water use by 2%, 5%, 7%, or 20% per year."
Gov. Cox has ordered state facilities to cut water use and the hours they can water. So has Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson for the facilities she oversees.
Frankel insisted it is not enough.
"Can we get real? We need some courage from state leaders to tackle these solutions and stop pretending like there are no solutions to use our water wisely," he wrote.