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State remains in extreme drought, but rain and people’s efforts are helping

Photo: National Weather Service Salt Lake City, via Twitter

SALT LAKE CITY– The latest numbers on Utah’s drought situation shows the state is still in bad shape, but rainstorms and efforts to conserve water are helping.

As of Wednesday, 100% of the state is considered to be in an extreme or exceptional drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. The drought coordinator for the Division of Water Resources, Laura Haskell recognizes how much Utahns are working to slow the flow, and she says they are making a difference.

“The reservoirs aren’t dropping as fast right now — with the rains and things, they aren’t going down as quickly, which is good,” she said.

Reservoir storage statewide now averages 55%, and 30 of the 42 largest reservoirs are below 55%.

The rain caused flooding in some areas of the state, like southern Utah. The downpour also means daily flow from 28 headwater streams is flowing slightly above the previous minimum daily flow record.

Meanwhile, any precipitation helps the hydrate the soil.

“Over this last 30 years of data, the soil has been as dry as it has ever been. And this week, we went above average, so that was good, to be a tiny tiny bit above average,” said Haskell.

Haskell says we want to have wet soil before the snow comes. Otherwise, all the soil soaks into the ground instead of building a snowpack that can then run off next spring into the reservoirs.

There are about two and a half months remaining in the irrigation season, so Haskell is encouraging people to keep up water conservation tactics, because the efforts are making a difference

“Last year, we saw reservoirs drop a lot, and this year they are not dropping as much,” Haskell explained. “Every drop we save now is water we will have later.”