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Utah drought worst in ten years, prompting emergency action

UTAH (News4Utah) - Drought conditions around Utah are the worst they have been in a decade, prompting Utah Dept. of Natural Resources officials to take emergency action. 

So far, six counties have declared states of emergency. Those include Box Elder, San Juan, Grand, Carbon, Emery and Wayne counties. 

Monday, Drought Review and Reporting Committee members met to discuss emergency options for those counties and hope to have requests for help on Gov. Herbert's desk soon. Right now, reservoirs around the state are only 57% full on average. 

The Great Salt Lake, also considered a reservoir and a great economic driver, is only one foot away from a historic low, officials told News4Utah. 

"We are watching weather patterns and listening to forecasters," said Michael Styler, director of Utah DNR. Styler said low snowfall amounts over the winter months have caused the water shortage. Elk and deer are migrating, even dying in some areas, because of the lack of water. 

"Ranchers have had to move their cattle off some mountains because there is no water," Styler said. 

Aside from praying for more snow this winter, DNR said they are hoping to get emergency protocol in place for farmers who are unable to irrigate certain crops due to the lack of moisture. 

DNR says individuals can help curb the effects of the drought. 

"Cutting your shower down by one minute can save 1,800 gallons of water a year," said Joshua Palmer, outreach director for the Dept. of Water Resources. "Where you can really save is outside. On average, Utahns are using two and 3,000 gallons of water every time they water their landscape. We don't have the water to waste," said Palmer. 

Utah DNR released numbers about low water levels at reservoirs around the state.

 


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