Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter stood outside the White House Tuesday, raindrops from the 12th wet day in a row at the capital soaking his suit.
"I have some surplus pumps I might sell here," he told reporters.The East, which had been in the midst of the worst drought in years only a month ago, has experienced its soggiest spring on record.
New York City, which declared a drought emergency in March, lifted tight water restrictions this week and quit pumping water directly from the Hudson River.
"It is hard to keep people from washing their cars when their cellars are flooded," one New York water official said.
New York City gets its water from a complex system of reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains, 90 miles northwest of Manhattan. Built in the 1890s and early 1900s, the Rondout, Neversink, Ashokan and other reservoirs rival Utah's Bonneville Unit in complexity as they store water from the Delaware River watershed and pipe it across the Shawagunk Mountains.
At the end of the winter the reservoirs were in some cases at less than half capacity at a time when melting snow usually has them brimming. In New York this winter, there was practically no snow to melt, as even upstate cities like Syracuse had little on the ground.
In the Catskills, the mountains were brown, not white.
In alarm, officials put out word that by summer water would be drastically short. Costly water-saving measures were ordered, and some users, like car washes, began to drill their own wells.
But in May the jet stream confounded the warnings, bringing a stagnant weather system across the East that sucked moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dumped it up and down the East Coast. Those dry New York reservoirs were up to more than 90 percent of capacity this week.
Bangerter, with a wry smile, said Utah is doing pretty well this year, particularly along the Wasatch Front.
"Over in the eastern part of the state they're having problems," he conceded, but the Salt Lake area is doing well, he said.
The controversial pumps are still spreading Great Salt Lake water into the west desert but will be turned off soon, he said. The pumped flows are now being managed to help mining companies extract minerals from the lake water.