Soil and water

Although monsoon rains help wet the ground, ‘bone dry conditions’ continue to plague the state – St George News

The scene of a thunderstorm in St. George, Utah, July 25, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Manuel Navarrete, St. George News

ST. GEORGE- Despite monsoon rainstorms hitting various parts of the state in recent weeks, state water managers are warning that the storms aren’t proving as beneficial as they might otherwise due to the long-term drought conditions.

The scene of a thunderstorm in Hurricane, Utah, July 25, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Katrina Judd, St. George News

“Despite recent monsoons that brought much needed rain to parts of the state, hot, dry conditions continue to bake our parched vegetation,” Joel Ferry, acting executive director of the Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. press published. Friday morning.

“With triple-digit temperatures and high winds, it doesn’t take much to start a destructive wildfire. We need people to use good Fire Sense and help stretch our water supply.

In total, there have been 642 total fires this year, of which 351 have been determined to be human-caused. This number is down from 440 at the same time last year.

However, the monsoon storms are having a positive effect, as they have lifted soil moisture to a level slightly above normal for this time of year, according to the Utah Division of Water Resources. Having moist soil helps prevent melting snow from being adsorbed into otherwise dry land, allowing snow runoff to reach lakes and streams. This can be critical because the majority of the water that fills the state’s reservoirs comes from snow runoff.

As previously reported by local water managers at the Washington County Water Conservation District, storms also have the added benefit of causing water users to reduce their outdoor watering in the short term.

As for statewide lake and reservoir levels, statewide averages have dropped to 54%, with 25 of the state’s 45 reservoirs listed at available capacity. less than 55%.

At Quail Creek Reservoir, Hurricane, Utah, May 1, 2019 | Photo Mori Kessler, St. George News

In southern Utah, the Gunlock, Quail Creek, and Sand Hollow reservoirs are 54%, 61%, and 73% capacity, respectively. Lake Panguitch is at 58% while Lake Powell is at 26%.

This year, tank storage started a little lower than the year before. With current storage in reservoirs close to last year’s percentage, this means that much more water has been channeled into streams and reservoirs.

Recreators are advised to check tank levels before heading out. Conditions vary and some boat ramp closures are in place due to low water levels at places like Lake Powell and elsewhere in the state.

State water managers have reported an increase in harmful algal blooms across the state over the past week due to higher temperatures and continued dry conditions that favor their development. Algal blooms, which create toxic bacteria that can harm humans and prove fatal to pets, remain present in the North Fork of the Virgin River in Zion National Park, as well as in LaVerkin Creek.

According to the latest information from the US Drought Monitor, drought conditions continue to plague the state, with 83.56% of the state experiencing “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions. Extreme and exceptional drought conditions are the most serious categories of the Drought Monitor.

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