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Utah's Top Stories: #8- The Drought Continues

Utah's Top Stories: #8- The Drought Continues

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John Hollenhorst reporting One of the biggest stories of 2004 has actually been with us now for several years. And the longer it goes on, the bigger the story gets. It's the drought, possibly the worst in 500 years.

John Hollenhorst takes a year-end look at our long dry-spell, the number 8 story of the year.

From a precip point of view, the year did have some high points.

Randy Julander/ NRCS Utah Snow Survey: "This is a million dollar storm. This is unbelievable. This is amazing."

But there were lots of low points, usually accompanied by a warning.

Stephanie Duer/ Water Conservation Coordinator: "If people don't conserve, then yes, we have the potential for restrictions."

It was a year when the drought was, again, declared a disaster for 21 counties.

Cary Peterson/ Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food: "It's particularly significant in ten of the counties in Northern Utah."

And understandably, it was a year when every bit of snow was a cause for celebration. The problem is, the weather teased us a bit in 2004. The drought seemed to moderate. But we cannot yet say if it's over.

The financial impacts after six years of drought are in the tens of millions of dollars. Many farmers had their irrigation water cut this year. That means lower production, less money.

On top of that, the drought helped spawn an awesome grasshopper invasion.

The boating industry took some blows as reservoirs dropped, even though boosters kept telling people, 'Come on in, the water's fine'.

Hollie Brown/ Utah State Parks: "Most of our state parks do have adequate water."

At Lake Powell, boaters found plenty of fun, but the lowest lake level since the 1960's. If the drought deepens, in a year or two it could force a shutdown of the valuable power plant at the Glen Canyon Dam.

Randy Julander: "We desperately need a good snow season."

That plea in October was answered by lots of good snow, early. The snowpack is still well above normal. But we still don't know the answer to the key question: Is the drought over, or will it be with us another year?

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