People heading for their favorite Utah reservoir for a cooling visit over the Pioneer Day vacation may be for a surprise.
Extreme drought conditions are negatively impacting reservoir levels, recreation and water quality, according to the Utah Department of Natural Resources.
The department encourages vacation travelers to check current conditions before hitting the road.
“The Pioneer Day weekend is traditionally one of Utah’s busiest outdoor recreation periods.,” said Brian Steed, Utah Department of Natural Resources executive director. “With low reservoir levels, it’s essential for families heading to our lakes and reservoirs to take extra precautions before visiting and while playing. Check for boat ramp closures and advisories, wear a life jacket and be aware of harmful algal bloom conditions.”
For the current week the department reports that decreased reservoir levels have led to boat ramp closures. Seven boat ramps are currently closed at six state parks; including Willard Bay, Echo, Millsite, Yuba, Piute and Antelope Island. Caution advisories have been issued for six additional parks.
Lower water levels may also expose additional navigation hazards and decrease the amount of boatable water, warned DNR officials.
Boat operators should keep their distance from other recreators and never operate above a wakeless speed within 150 feet of swimmers, docks and boats.
Updated information for DNR facilities can be found at stateparks.utah.gov/activities/.
More harmful algal blooms are being reported this year due to low water levels and warmer than normal temperatures A lake-wide warning advisory has been issued for Utah Lake by Utah County Health Department. Current state-wide harmful algal blooms status can be checked at deq.utah.gov/water-quality/harmful-algal-blooms-home.
Reservoir storage statewide continues to drop and now averages 56%. Down from 58% last week. Out of Utah’s 42 reservoirs 28 are below 55% of available capacity. Red Fleet, Smith & Morehouse and Bear Lake all dropped below 55%. Due to heavy rain, Lower Enterprise rebounded above 55%.
Current statewide reservoir levels are lower than they were at the end of last year’s irrigation season in October, with about three months remaining in the irrigation season.
On July 19, the elevation of the Great Salt Lake tied the previous historic low of 4191.4 feet recorded in 1963.
Statewide, streamflows also remain low with 76 of the 97 measured streams flowing below normal.
The dry weather continues to increase fire danger.
While Utah saw a significant number of natural fire starts last week, human-caused ignitions remained low ,according Nathan Schwebach, DNR communications director.
“This is great news and an indicator that those recreating on public lands are using their FireSense,” he said.