Several boat ramps throughout the state closed and more to follow due to drought

As of Thursday July 22, the boat dock at Hyrum Reservoir was open while some boat docks in the state have closed due to low water.

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Department of Natural Resources is warning recreationalists of decreasing reservoir levels leading to boat ramp closures at six state parks, including Willard Bay, Echo, Millsite, Yuba, Piute and Antelope Island. Caution advisories have been issued for six additional parks.

Karla Coppin, her daughter Laura and her granddaughters await the arrival of the family boat at the boat dock at Hyrum reservoir on Thursday July, 22 2021.

People planning to recreate on Utah water for this weekend’s Pioneer Day may want to check the boat dock destinations of reservoirs and lakes if they are planning to launch a boat.

Extreme drought conditions have not only negatively affected reservoir levels, but it also taking its toll on recreation and water quality. Usually, Pioneer Day and the long holiday weekend that goes with it is a great opportunity to venture outdoors, particularly to lakes and reservoirs to cool off.

This year, however, the Utah Department of Natural Resources is telling boaters it is important to check current conditions before going to your destination.

“The Pioneer Day weekend is traditionally one of Utah’s busiest outdoor recreation periods. With low reservoir levels, it’s essential for families heading to our lakes and reservoirs to take extra precautions before visiting and while playing,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed. “Check for boat ramp closures and advisories, wear a life jacket and be aware of harmful algal bloom conditions.”

As of the week of July 19, Utah Divisions of Water Resources and Water Rights compiled information about Utah’s current drought conditions, water storage, stream flows and water rights allocation. The Department of Environmental Quality also contributed information about harmful algal blooms to this week’s report.

At-a-glance changes for the week: 

  • Lower water levels may also expose additional navigation hazards and decrease the amount of boatable water. Boat operators should keep their distance from other recreators and never operate above a wakeless speed within 150 feet of swimmers, docks and boats.
  • More harmful algal blooms (HABs) are being reported this year due to low water levels and warmer than normal temperatures A lake-wide Warning Advisory has been issued for Utah Lake by Utah County Health Department. Current state-wide HAB status can be found at by calling Utah Department of Natural Resources at 801-538-7200 or check their website www.nr.utah.gov.
  • Reservoir storage statewide continues to drop and now averages 56% (down from 58% last week). Twenty-eight of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity. Red Fleet, Smith & Morehouse and Bear Lake all dropped below 55%. Due to heavy rain, Lower Enterprise rebounded above 55%.
  • Current statewide reservoir levels are now lower than they were at the end of last year’s irrigation season in October (56% now compared to 61% in October 2020). There are about three months remaining in the irrigation season when water use is traditionally at its peak.
  • On July 19, the elevation of the Great Salt Lake tied the previous historic low (4191.4 feet) recorded in 1963. (The Division of Water Resources uses the daily averages rather than the instantaneous readings recorded every 15-minutes.)
  • Streamflows statewide remain low with 76 of the 97 measured streams flowing below normal. Daily flow from 28 headwater streams is currently flowing below the previous minimum daily flow record.

Streamflow is also near historic lows along the Bear and Logan rivers. According to the Division of Natural Resources, the water supply on the Logan River, tributary to the Middle Bear, is third lowest on record out of 58 years (1977 and 1992 were lower) according to the CRBFC Water Supply Forecast (Station LGNU1).

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