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Record Rainfall Year Ends Emergency Drought Order, A Farmers Perspective

Earl Creech
Irrigation system in action in a research field at Utah State University.

Utah is one of the driest states, and citizens are accustomed to drought warnings and plans. Last October, Governor Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency when he put a drought emergency order into effect. Now, a year later, the order has been lifted and 2019 will now take its place as Utah’s 10th wettest year recorded.

Earl Creech works as an extension agronomist for Utah State University where he researches crop production and drought in Utah.

“The farmers of Utah are always thankful for any precipitation we received and the fact we got a bunch of it this year is a really good thing," he said. "So, this year we were able to enjoy terrific crops and we are keeping our fingers crossed that that will persist into next year, and one thing that we can all be sure is that we all do live in the desert and the next drought is just around the corner, but we’ll be happy with what we have for this year.”

Even though Utah saw above-average levels of rainfall in 2019, there still was not enough for farmers to ditch their irrigation systems. Irrigation systems make it possible for farmers to water their crops; however, supplies are limited.

“Agricultural irrigators get their water through irrigation companies and every canal company or every ditch company, they are going to  have a certain amount of water allocated to them that they can use for irrigation purpose," Creech said. "These farmers basically have a right to a certain amount of  water - you use that water, and once it’s gone, it's gone.” 

Different types of irrigation systems help farmers conserve the water supply, especially in times of drought.