SALT LAKE CITY – Utah completed its hydrologic year on Friday, recording one of the most “dismal” in recent history.
“We have experienced some of the worst water supply conditions of our lives,” said Candice Hasenyager, director of the Utah Water Resources Division.
Utah has seen record stream levels, low reservoirs and record dry soils. Great Salt Lake, a vital part of the northern Utah ecosystem, has hit a new low.
Little good news came from local water districts, who reported that the Utahns have globally conserved billions of gallons of water, which has stretched supplies a bit further. As a result, the Utah Department of Natural Resources said there appeared to be enough potable water for next year.
But projections show that Utah’s drought will continue into the next year. State officials asked the legislator to extend the state of emergency in the event of drought.
“It’s going to take a long time to get out of this drought. We expect that we would need at least 150% of the normal snowpack to feel comfortable next year, so we’ll probably ask people to retain again next year, ”Hasenyager told FOX 13.
Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council environmental group, said he expected the poor water situation to continue in the years to come.
“This was one of the worst water years on record in a climate change mega-drought where we have had a string of bad water years in a row,” he said in an interview. Friday with FOX 13.
The Utah state legislature is expected to consider a number of policy proposals aimed at water conservation when it meets in January. Frankel said lawmakers should have addressed the situation long before that.
“It is October 1 and we have not seen any new legislation coming out of the legislature. It has been a complete and utter failure,” he said. “We have had no leadership in water conservation from state house.”
At his monthly press conference, Governor Spencer Cox said a number of drought related policies are being developed, aimed at water conservation, development and large water consumption in agriculture.
“I think you will see several bills coming out that are conservation related bills that will make sure we do more,” the governor told reporters.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources recently released a draft water management plan that sets the stage for growth over the next 50 years. The report suggests that Utah has enough water resources to meet needs through 2070, even taking into account the impacts of climate change.
“As long as we have this reliable supply, it’s true,” Hasenyager said. “This year we didn’t have the same reliable supply.”
The plan calls for more conservation measures, but also contemplates some controversial projects such as the Lake Powell pipeline and Bear River development projects. He also identified more reservoirs needed to accommodate Utah’s growth.
Hasenyager told FOX 13 that there are as many as 300 potential tank sites under consideration across the state.
“I have to say that it will still take a lot of work to see if it’s viable, if the sites are viable, if there is demand, who is going to pay for it,” she said.
The state water body is now available for public comment, and people can weigh in here. Frankel said people should also call their lawmakers to demand real bills to deal with the impacts of the drought.
“Climate change means that each year of water on average will be less than what we are used to,” he said. “And that’s what we need to understand.”