Utah reservoir levels continue to drop with ongoing drought

Jul 15, 2021, 2:17 PM | Updated: 3:19 pm
pineview utah reservoir levels...
The north and south branches of the South Fork of the Ogden River flow into Pineview Reservoir near Huntsville, Weber County, on Monday, June 28, 2021. Statewide, reservoir levels are currently averaging lower than they were in October 2020. Photo: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The latest update on Utah drought conditions from the Utah Department of Natural Resources show statewide, reservoir levels are lower than they were at the end of irrigation season last fall.

That means many communities have exhausted the water supply from this winter’s snowpack and are now dipping into their reserves.  

Utah reservoir levels lower than last fall

In a news release, Utah DNR officials said reservoir levels currently fall below their levels from the end of the 2020 irrigation season, in October. 

“We are no longer pulling water from this year’s runoff,” said executive director Brian Steed. “Instead, we’re relying on water that has been stored in our reservoirs during previous years. We’re pulling water from our emergency savings.” 

Steed cautioned against using too much of the water reserves too quickly during the extreme drought. 

“No one knows how long this drought will last, so it’s vital that we avoid using our stored water too quickly,” he added. “Failing to save water now could lead to far more difficult circumstances later.” 

Roughly three months remain in the irrigation season for 2021, according to Utah DNR. 

Utah drought conditions updated weekly

Each week, the agency monitors the current Utah drought conditions and sends out a report on any changes. Among this week’s insights: 

  • 26 of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs sit below 55% capacity. 
  • Reservoir storage statewide currently averages 58%, down from 59% a week ago. 
  • The average statewide reservoir levels in October, at the end of irrigation season, were 61%. 
  • The elevation of the Great Salt Lake currently sits around 2.5 to 3 inches above its historic low, set in 1963. 

The Great Salt Lake reached its historic low of 4191.4 feet in 1963. 

So far, storms that produced flash flooding across southern Utah have not generated much relief in the northern half of the state. A storm system could provide some moisture for northern Utah, but most of the rain will stay to the south. 

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