Aerial imagery reveals the grim reality of ongoing drought in Utah

Apr 19, 2022, 2:46 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:32 pm
Satellite imagery of Sand Hallow taken June 2021. (Nearmap)...
Satellite imagery of Sand Hallow taken June 2021. (Nearmap)

With summer approaching and the passage of multiple bills focused on water conservation efforts, the minds of Utahns are turning to the ongoing drought and possible water restrictions.

Images provided by Nearmap, an aerial imagery company, show before and after photos of local reservoirs with receding shorelines: more evidence of the dire drought conditions that plague the state of Utah.

Aerial imagery of Hyrum Reservoir taken August 2019. (Nearmap)


Aerial imagery of Hyrum Reservoir taken September 2021. (Nearmap)


Aerial imagery of Sand Hallow taken September 2019. (Nearmap)

Aerial imagery of Sand Hallow taken November 2020. (Nearmap)

Aerial imagery of Sand Hallow taken June 2021. (Nearmap)


Aerial imagery of Utah Lake taken August 2020. (Nearmap)


Aerial imagery of Utah Lake taken September 2021. (Nearmap)

Nearmap is an aerial imagery company based out of Australia that takes photos 3-4 times a year over the U.S. Their North American headquarters are based in South Jordan, Utah.

Aerial imagery of Willard Bay taken March 2018. (Nearmap)


Aerial imagery of Willard Bay taken September 2021. (Nearmap)

Nearmap did not have photos of Lake Powell or the Great Salt Lake, and only had photos of Deer Creek Reservoir and Jordanelle Reservoir from 2021. Included here below:

Aerial imagery of Jordanelle Reservoir taken September 2021. (Nearmap)

Aerial  imagery of Jordanelle Reservoir taken September 2021. (Nearmap)


Aerial imagery of Deer Creek Reservoir taken September 2021. (Nearmap)

According to Nearmap, they typically cover residential areas with their footage, but will fly over wetlands and lakes per the request of city or state governments. Nearmap did not get say if the photos above were taken at the request of the state.

The photos reveal a dramatic change in the shoreline within only a year or a few years time. With 99% of the state in severe drought and 2022 beginning with the fourth driest year on record, some water restrictions are imminent.

Salt Lake City recently announced it would begin Stage two of its five-stage Water Shortage Contingency Plan, asking the public to cut back water use by 5% a day and requiring public golf courses, parks, and city-owned buildings to reduce overall water use.

The Utah government has taken action allotting $450 million for water-conservation infrastructure this year, it seems the government is taking action following a devastating summer of drought in 2021.

Gov. Spencer Cox signed the following three bills focused on water conservation Friday.

HB121 is the first of its kind, offering a $5 million incentive for those that replace their lawn or turf with drought-tolerant vegetation that requires little to no water at all according to the bill.

Exclusions to this incentive include golf courses, athletic fields, parks or sod farms. The bill also requires the Legislative Water Development Commission to study water conservation in the state and imposes water conservation requirements at state government facilities.

HB242, covers secondary water metering which will require water suppliers to meter new and existing pressurized secondary water connections and imposes penalties for those who fail to comply with metering requirements.

Previously, Utah had many unmetered secondary water systems which provide untreated irrigation water for outdoor water use and users of these systems paid a flat monthly or annual fee regardless of the amount of water they’re using. This bill means people would be charged according to their water use and penalized for not following metering requirements.

If all secondary water in Utah was metered, it could save at least 80,000 acre-feet, the equivalent amount of water to serve the annual water demand of 400,000 Utahns.

The bill also provides $200 million in grants to fund metering of specific pressurized secondary water services.

SB110 requires a water use and preservation element to be part of a municipal or county general plan with some exceptions. This bill targets long term water use and water supply essential for growing communities in increasing drought.

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Aerial imagery reveals the grim reality of ongoing drought in Utah