Hyrum closes boat ramp due to low water levels

Amelia Guertler a seasonal park employee at Hyrum State Park adjusts a sign telling boaters the launch ramp is closed due to low water on Wednesday Aug. 11 2021. This is the first time in years the launch ramp has closed ths early.

HYRUM – As water levels continue to drop, the boat ramp at Hyrum State Park has closed. However, there are some boaters still using the ramp according to Amelia Guertler, a seasonal park employee.

Bryson Freeze from Logan brought nieces and nephews to play in Porcupine Reservoir Wednesday Aug 11. The reservoir is over 70 feet lower than when it is full.

We have closed the boat ramp, but there are still people using it to launch their boats,” she said. “People can use it at their own risk.”

She said the water is the lowest she has seen in three years she has worked there.

Kirt Lindley, the dam tender for Hyrum Reservoir, said this is the first time the ramp has closed this early in the 30-years he’s worked at the dam controlling the water.

“We made it to August and we still have four feet of water we can take,” he said. “We leave about 2,000-acre feet of water when we are done.”

They can’t mechanically get any more water than that out of the reservoir when it gets to 2,000 acre-feet.

“I figured if we shut off all of the water right now and we didn’t get any more we should be in good shape for next year,” he said. “I can’t say we had plenty of water, but we did have enough this year.”

The shareholders were conscientious when it comes to the use of their water. The dam tender said he expects to be able to fill the reservoir by June 1st next year.

Bryson Freeze from Logan shows a bag of garbage his nieces and nephews picked up at Porcupine Reservoir on Wednesday Aug 11.

“I think the guys at Porcupine (Reservoir) did well enough, too, despite the dry year we’ve had,” Lindley said. “I think everyone that used the two reservoirs have done well despite the low water.”

Porcupine Dam is approximately 70 feet down from when it is full.

Lack of water and heat continues to have a tight hold on the state, with 99.43% of the state in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. This time last year just over 10 percent of the state was in “extreme” drought, with nowhere in the “exceptional” drought category.

The benefits we saw from the recent rainstorms are wearing off with soils once again drying out,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed. “We have seen a measurable decrease in water use around the state, which helps keep more water in our reservoirs for later use. We appreciate all those who have reduced their use and ask for continued conservation because we don’t know what the winter will bring.”

Kirt Lindley water tender at Hyrum Dam adjusted the gates on the reservoir so it will stay full until the down stream farmers are ready to take their water shares.

The Utah Divisions of Water Resources, Water Rights, Wildlife Resources, State Parks, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Agriculture & Food compiled a list of places impacted by the drought this week in Utah .

  • Although 32 of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity, the overall statewide storage remained steady at 53% of capacity (Utah Lake increased slightly to 55%, and Causey Reservoir dropped below 55%).
  • Of the 97 measured streams, 49 flowed below normal this week compared to 54 last week – potentially due to low evaporation rates and higher soil moisture, which allowed more water to get to streams. Heavy rainstorms, like the 600% of normal precipitation events the state recently experienced, typically create very high streamflow spikes. Daily flow from 28 headwater streams is below average for this time of year; however, it is above the previous record minimum. Cumulative runoff from those same streams remains below the previously recorded minimum at about half of average since Oct. 1, 2020.
  • Farmers and ranchers continue to face severe effects of the drought.
    • Hay supplies and rangeland conditions remain an issue for farmers and ranchers, with 92% of hay and roughage supplies rated as short or very short and 65% of pasture and rangelands rated as poor to very poor.
    • 88% of irrigation water and stock water supplies are rated as short to very short.
  • Eleven boat ramps are currently closed at eight state parks, besides Hyrum, Jordanelle, Antelope Island, Echo, Millsite, Piute, Rockport, Willard Bay and Yuba have all put restrictions on launching watercraft. Caution advisories have also been issued for six additional state park boat ramps.

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