Dryest two months have been remarkably wet
Torrential rain in what is generally the driest month of the year has made a significant impact on San Juan County.
The rain has turned what was once a bleak outlook for farmers into what may be a bumper year.
It has been five years, or more, since most irrigators have had water for their crops.
After the fifth consecutive dryer-than-normal winter left area reservoirs far below normal levels, there has been little or no water for irrigation.
However, two months of rain has succeeded in producing a great crop of dry land hay.
Local high-desert hay, particularly that grown without irrigating water, is highly sought after by dairy farmers and horse owners for its nutrition and high-protein content.
Many farmers have already harvested their best hay crop in years.
The winter wheat harvest is also looking very strong. The harvest is expected to begin in the next two weeks, leaving farmers hoping to bring in a bumper harvest.
While the threat of a late freeze has passed, the risk of fire and hail is causing some sleepless nights.
The rains have had a significant impact on water storage.
Blanding City Manager Jeremy Redd reports that all of the Blanding City reservoirs are full, and the city has plenty of water for city use.
Recapture Reservoir, which is owned by the San Juan Water Conservancy District, is significantly below the conservation pool.
Construction is continuing on the Water Conservancy District project to raise the level of Dry Wash Reservoir.
In Monticello, Public Works Director Nathan Langston reports that Loyds Lake is up by ten feet in the past month.
This was after an early spring when it appeared there would be little or no runoff.
“Things looked bleak for awhile but ended up pretty good,” said Langston. “City residents have been great with water use.”
Langston said Monticello residents are paying more attention to their water use since a metering system was placed on the secondary water system.
Bluff is a great case in point on how extraordinary the precipitation was in the month of June.
June is generally the driest month of the year in Bluff, with an average of .21 inches of rain for the entire month. However, in 2015, Bluff received 3.36” of rain in June. This is 16 times the normal level.
For the month of June, precipitation was significantly higher than average in all three area communities.
Monticello had 483 percent of normal precipitation, and Blanding had 658 percent of normal precipitation.
Heavy rains in May and June changed what was once a drier-than-normal year to a significantly wetter-than-normal year. For instance, year-to-date precipitation in Monticello is 125 percent of normal.
Generally at this time of the year, everyone is looking forward to the arrival of the monsoon season, which brings afternoon rainstorms to areas throughout the county.
However in 2015, in May and June, monsoon-like conditions have already brought showers to the area for two months.