Once More With Feeling: State Drought Panel Recommends Emergency Declaration Continue

Once More With Feeling: State Drought Panel Recommends Emergency Declaration Continue
May 12, 2021

There’s just no camouflaging it. It’s dry out there. And hotter than what previously was considered “normal.” And the odds are almost even that it’s going to stay that way for a while.

Water year precipitation

The Drought Interagency Coordinating Group, an advisory body to the Arizona Governor on drought issues, met Tuesday to weigh whether to recommend to Gov. Doug Ducey that Arizona continue with its long-standing drought-emergency declaration.

There was high drama in the air… not. Occasionally over the years there has been some question over which way the panel would go. Not this time.

Outlook: Jul/Aug/Sept 2021

ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke, the group’s chair, wasted no time reading the will of the panel. A recommendation from the Spring 2021 Drought Interagency Coordinating Group that the governor continue the drought-emergency declaration easily passed.

“Usually, I try to go through some of the information at the end, but this time I’m not even going to bother,” said Buschatzke upon hearing the summary conclusions of the panelists.

End of Calendar Year 2022 Projections for Lake Powell and Lake Mead

“Because basically it’s dry. Dry, drier and, unfortunately, maybe not even driest. So, I agree we ought to make that recommendation to the Governor.”

As panelist Mark O’Malley of the National Weather Service observed, “This trend is not changing any time soon.

“It looks like it’s going to continue warming. Soil moisture is being taken away. Plants having extra moisture taken away. Not only has it become drier, but some of the (recent) decades are among the driest we’ve ever experienced,” said O’Malley.

Nevertheless, O’Malley held out some hope that Arizona’s summer monsoon season, which effectively disappeared last year, may reappear in 2021.


Salt/Verde Watershed & SRP Reservoirs Summary

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, he said, does indicate “a modest increase in likelihood of better than average precipitation” in Arizona this summer.

“So, there is a little bit of hope looking over the next couple months.”

The Group’s first meeting of 2021 did offer an opportunity for celebration, however.

After serving 14 years on the Interagency panel – all of it under drought-emergency declaration, Dr. Nancy Selover, the Arizona State Climatologist, announced her retirement. She also will retire from her post as an Academic Associate in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

(Dr. Selover sat for a lively ‘exit interview’ with ADWR’s Arizona Water News just prior to this week’s drought-panel meeting. The audio of that interview can be found below)