Drought conditions persist in Wyoming
by Governor Freudenthal’s office
June 20, 2007
The heavy moisture from several substantial spring storms this year has been a mere drop in the bucket, state officials said today. Wyoming remains in a serious drought.
At a news conference in the Governor’s Formal Office, members of the Wyoming Drought Management Task Force emphasized that now is the time for conservation efforts for businesses, homeowners, gardeners and agricultural producers.
“A large portion of the state had some spring moisture and the landscape has been green,” said Leanne Stevenson of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and co-chair of the task force. “But a deeper look at the situation reveals that our hydrological system has been deprived for seven to nine years and this is severely impacting our reservoirs, streams and groundwater supplies throughout the state.”
Several representatives from agencies with seats on the task force spoke at the conference including Wyoming State Climatologist Steve Gray, Deputy State Forester Dan Perko, Deputy State Engineer Harry Labonde and Assistant Services Division Chief Eric Keszler of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service were also in attendance.
“A well-timed series of spring storms has finally brought some green back to Wyoming,” Gray said. “Unfortunately this year’s grass hides a myriad of long-term drought impacts and potential water supply problems. Most of the high country snow had melted out by early June, which is several weeks to a month earlier than usual. Stream flows are forecast to be far below average this year. This, in turn, sets the stage for very dry conditions later in the summer, along with high fire danger, restrictions on water use and declining reservoir levels.”
Drought conditions will likely worsen throughout the summer, Gray added, and may become quite severe in some parts of the state by August and September.
“Gov. Freudenthal has continued to support the efforts of the task force,” Stevenson said, “and has advised us to be proactive in providing information to the press and the public about water management conservation measures. We’re working to let people in the state know what agencies are doing to try and mitigate impacts of the drought on the citizens of Wyoming.”
Gray added that in part, human nature comes into play when thinking about drought.
“Everyone is tired of hearing about the drought and that makes people more willing to want to accept that it is over. We tend to remember the big storms, not the three months without any precipitation. However, we’re seeing the cumulative effects of many, many years of drought and that makes us more vulnerable to changes in the weather,” Gray added.
At the end of the news conference, Stevenson added a reminder that it’s critical that all citizens implement and practice water conservation measures at home and at work.
She said in the coming months, the task force will be working to raise public awareness on drought and provide tips on easy ways to save water.