Environews, Minis

Gov. Herbert declares drought emergency

By Amy Brunvand

On October 15 Utah Governor Gary Herbert issued an Executive Order to declare a drought emergency for the entire state.

Last winter, snowpack was only 50-60% of normal and melted several months early. Prolonged dry conditions led to a formidable wildfire season. The state of emergency exists until the threat or danger has passed but due to climate change, drought in Utah may be the new normal. Utah does not have a long-term drought plan to cope with climate change.

One effect of drought is that farmers in drought-stricken counties have not been able to irrigate alfalfa. Alfalfa is a cash crop, largely exported to China. That means Utah’s extravagant water subsidies are subsidizing Chinese cattle. Given the emergency, this seems like exactly the wrong way to manage scarce water resources.

This article was originally published on November 5, 2018.