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DROUGHT IN SOME AREAS OF UTAH EXPECTED TO BE WORSE THAN LAST YEAR’S

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Cities along the Wasatch Front will have ample drinking and irrigation water this year, but the rest of Utah, especially the southern and eastern counties, are in a drought already and can expect things to get worse.

Members of the Governor's Drought Review and Reporting Committee said last week the reservoir and streamflow levels in most of the state's rural areas are worse than last year's drought levels.They said they expect severe wildfires, perhaps worse than last year's record fire losses; wildlife losses, including fish, waterfowl and big game; an adverse affect on recreation from low water levels; and agricultural losses, including cattle depredations and smaller crop yields.

D. Larry Anderson, director of the Division of Water Resources, said, "As of April 1, snowpacks across the state range from a high of 88 percent of average on the Duchesne and Green rivers to a low of 50 percent on the Virgin River.

"The total snowpack is 65 percent of average whereas during last year's drought the state's snowpack was 80 percent of average."

Worse yet, Anderson said, "streamflow forecasts average only 50 percent statewide whereas during last year's drought streamflows were at 72 percent of normal.

"Reservoir storage statewide is at 63 percent of normal and the low streamflow means many reservoirs will not fill this spring. Those in the southeast and the Virgin, Sevier and Bear river areas will face the most severe shortages this summer."

Many rural cities, especially those in Sanpete, San Juan, Daggett, Carbon and Garfield counties, can expect difficulties getting enough drinking and irrigation water this year, committee members said.

Even some sewer systems may have difficulty getting enough water to comply with discharge regulations.

For the past week, Blanding, San Juan County, has had so little city water available it has been pumping water into its culinary water supply from a fish conservation pool in a nearby reservoir, Anderson said.

"Springs in Manti are flowing one-half of normal and Price will most likely have to have mandatory water conservation."

Anderson said those farmers who had a problem with drought last year will have as many or more problems this year.

Agricultural Commissioner Cap Ferry said livestock producers and farmers who depend on streamflow instead of reservoirs to water their lands will be the hardest hit.

Committee chairman Dee C. Hansen, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources, said even though residents along the Wasatch Front will have little or no trouble getting enough water this summer, residents should conserve water as much as possible and not waste any because nobody knows what next year will bring.

Darrell Nish, assistant director of the Division of Wildlife Resources, said, "the Board of Big Game Control has recognized that all kinds of wildlife will suffer this year because of the drought and the board has increased the antlerless deer and elk permits above normal this year to keep the herds in balance with the diminished resources."