Monday, September 10, 2012

Continued Drought Could End Farming Tradition

Lee Ray Sorensen once told his sons Mark and Neil that the groundwater ditch that ran alongside their hay and cattle farm would always have enough water to feed their fields. The brothers can now stick half of the length of their arms into cracks between the dried mud where that water used to be. With all of Utah’s 29 counties now declared drought disaster areas, the Sorensen brothers near Spring City in northern Sanpete County are not the only farmers who have seen this season’s hopes dry up and become dusty before their eyes.

Since October 2011, only 17.2 inches of rain has fallen on northern Sanpete County, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That is just over half of the previous water year's 32.5 inches.

While many farmers throughout the state, including Utah County farmers, have been able to fall back on water storage and reservoirs, the farmers in the Sanpete Valley have little to no water storage to draw from for their crops and livestock. The natural springs and runoff from the mountains that usually supply the region fell short this year after last winter's lessened contribution in spring snow melt. Daily Herald