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Utah’s drought is forcing cities to ship in drinking water

Drought conditions as of July 8, 2021 (courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

SALT LAKE CITY — As more Utah reservoirs are shrinking, some towns are being forced to truck in drinking water for their residents.

Kevin Eubank, KSL 5 TV meteorologist, told KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic “Water is gold in the West. But we treat it like pennies in Utah and throw it away.”

Eubank said the concerns over the lack of the resource are legitimate, as our drinking water is now at stake. “Lake Mead can’t even generate power anymore because the water level is so low,” noted Eubank. 

No drinking water from the taps

Residents in smaller cities that don’t have water rights will have to get creative in order to provide drinking water. For example, the city of Echo in Summit County is already shipping in drinking water

Eubank said the soil is so dry, much of the precipitation we received this year soaked into the ground rather than run into a reservoir. And the problem may not resolve itself anytime soon. “It takes as many years to come out of a drought as it does to go into one,” Eubank explained. 

It isn’t just small towns affected

Grant Weyman, another meteoroligist for KSL 5 TV, said “We’ve had 2-bad years. If we have at least 2-good years of rain and snow we should be able to get back to normal levels.

But improving drought conditions requires Utahns to make a decision. 

“We need to choose between drinking water or using it for plants,” said Eubank.  “We don’t have the supply for both across the state.”

In the meantime, many reservoirs are closing to recreational use as water levels decline. “Our reservoirs are built for water storage,” Eubank said. “People are using some of them recreationally, but that’s not what they were built for.”

One bright spot, as the water in reservoirs become more shallow, there’s less surface.  So, it doesn’t evaporate as fast even with higher temperatures.