ST. GEORGE — Utah’s governor is asking people of faith throughout the state to pray for rain this weekend so there may be some relief from the ongoing drought.
Gov. Spencer Cox issued a statement Thursday asking Utah citizens to pray to whatever higher power they believe in for “divine intervention.” Despite issuing two emergency declarations, enacting some water restrictions and asking Utahns to reduce their water use, the governor said he fears it won’t be enough.
“I’ve already asked all Utahns to conserve water by avoiding long showers, fixing leaky faucets, and planting water-wise landscapes. But I fear those efforts alone won’t be enough to protect us,” Cox said in his statement. “We need more rain and we need it now. We need some divine intervention. That’s why I’m asking Utahns of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer June 4 through the 6th.”
The increasing severity of the drought poses a threat to the state’s agriculture and livestock productions, as well as wildlife and natural habitats. The threat extremely dry conditions pose for wildlife is also ever-present across the state, according to the statement from the governor’s office.
According to Drought.org, as of Tuesday, nearly 100% of Utah is in a state of severe drought, with 62% – which includes Iron and Washington counties – existing in a state of exceptional drought.
While Washington County’s reservoirs are projected to have enough water to carry the county through the summer, Zachary Renstrom, Washington County Water Conservancy District general manager, stressed the need for county residents to conserve water.
“This year we’re OK, the big concern though, is what happens next year and the year after that, so it starts compounding,” Renstrom said, adding that the water district is sending a list of recommended water use restrictions and practices to cities that they are encouraging them to adopt. “Let’s start making those smart decisions now and maybe avoid more painful steps in the future if we have another really dry year.”
As the water district’s ability to supply the county with water depends on future rain and snowfall, Renstrom said he welcomes the governor’s call to prayer to alleviate the drought and replenish the county’s reservoir stores while at it.
While there isn’t anything wrong with prayer, it won’t be enough to save Utah from the drought, the Utah Rivers Council said in a statement in response to the governor’s plea.
“There’s nothing wrong with prayer,” said Zachary Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, “but there’s a suite of state policies we could implement to address this drought which are being ignored.”
Utah has some of the highest municipal water use in the United States, he added, yet state leaders and water managers refuse to enact meaningful water conservation policies that could help curb the state’s overall water use.
“Can we get real? We need some courage from state leaders to tackle these solutions and stop pretending like there are no solutions to use our water wisely,” Frankel said. “I’m praying for courage from the people we elected to represent us to take on the special interests fighting water conservation programs. Will my prayers be heard?”
Tips on how to conserve water can be found at SlowTheFlow.org.
The Washington County Water Conservancy District and governor’s office also recommend residents follow the following water-saving practices:
- Fix leaks.
- Run full loads in dishwashers and washing machines.
- Turn off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, soaping up, doing dishes or rinsing vegetables.
- Reduce showers by at least one minute.
- Wait to water.
- Plan now for the irrigation season and considering the implementation of water-wise landscaping or purchasing a smart irrigation controller.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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