SALT LAKE CITY — Recent storms have not helped get Utah out of its ongoing drought emergency, according to a report released Wednesday.
Utah's Divison of Water Resources said the storms have helped stream flow, and many soils have improved. But the monsoonal moisture has not significantly impacted Utah's reservoirs.
In fact, the state said that 32 of Utah's 42 largest reservoirs were now below 55% capacity. Utah Lake has also dropped to 54% capacity.
“Recent monsoons have soaked many parts of the state. This much-needed rain has helped reduce wildfire risk and temporarily improve soil moisture and streamflows. The storms have not, however, pulled us out of this drought,” Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed said in a statement. “Hopefully, steady rain and snow will continue into this winter when it will have the most significant impact on drought conditions.”
The monsoons never showed up the last two years, which led to record-dry soils and inefficient runoff, the division said in its report. The storms have been able to reduce demand for water with noticeable declines in people using their sprinklers on browning lawns.
But there are still problems. In the tiny town of Echo, the division said that drinking water was being hauled in because of a shortage there. The state was also working to determine "strategies that ensure the system is more resilient to drought in the future," the report said.
The Great Salt Lake remained at a record low. The division said storms have helped it from dropping further.
"Lake levels are expected to continue dropping until irrigation season concludes, evaporation slows down, and more water flows into the lake," the report said.