A strong water year has put an end to Utah’s severe drought conditions in the estimation of state officials. As a result, Gov. Gary R. Herbert has officially rescinded the 2018 executive order that declared a statewide emergency due to drought.
Law enforcement officers, biologists and technicians for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources had a busy Labor Day weekend, working to prevent invasive quagga mussels from spreading.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in conjunction with state laws, generally requires that municipalities like the City of Moab establish justifications for its taxation and fees for the sake of “equal protection under the law,” as the Constitution reads. As such, changing local churches’ billing structures will be no trivial feat and could cost the city a hefty consulting fee to accomplish, if officials choose to do so.
Many local churches’ sewer bills increased dramatically last year, most more than doubling, after the City of Moab changed the formula it uses to bill customers. Since then, leaders of Moab’s faith communities have been attempting to get city leaders to adjust the formula, since they say the price increase is not associated with any actual increase in their sewer usage.
The Bureau of Reclamation Aug. 15 released its Colorado River Basin August 2019 24-month study, which sets the annual operations for Lake Mead and Lake Powell in 2020. Based on projections in the 24-month study, Lake Mead will operate in the “normal” or “surplus” condition range in calendar year 2020. Lake Powell will operate in a range called “upper elevation balancing tier” in the 2020 water year, which is Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2020.
Since U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologist C. T. Sumsion completed the first comprehensive study of Moab’s groundwater system in 1971, the scientific understanding of how much water flows through the local watershed has changed dramatically—specifically, by 30% to 40%—in the wake of a recently finalized groundwater study also by the USGS.
A recently finalized study by the U.S. Geological Survey has corroborated state estimates for Moab’s water budget, the amount of consumable groundwater that passes through the valley each year. Melissa Masbruch, a USGS hydrologist and the lead author on the study, overturned many big assumptions from the previous groundwater study in 1971, led by USGS hydrologist C.T. Sumsion, including the path that groundwater travels as it makes its way from the La Sal Mountains into the underlying valley.
A long-awaited study from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that the availability of groundwater in the Moab valley is significantly less than a study from 1971—the most recent study investigating the size of the area’s watershed.
A rivers management plan 18 months in the making will provide some much-needed direction to officials and employees at the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands when it is approved.
Based on historical averages, the Colorado River typically peaks near Moab during the first week of June. This year the river is projected to peak later; a forecast from the National Weather Service showed the river could reach its maximum on June 15.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in a statement to water managers released June 1 reported that all of Utah’s watersheds have received greater than 100 percent of average precipitation since the water year began Oct. 1.
The public is invited to attend a public open house regarding management of the Colorado and Green rivers. The Grand County event is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 25 at the Grand Center, 182 North and 500 West. An open house in San Juan County is the same time one day earlier at the San Juan County Administration Building, 117 South Main Street in Monticello.