The Monitoring Technical Committee’s annual update indicated that the overall condition for the 2011 water year is moderate drought, with significant degradation from a year ago both in northern Arizona and the southeastern watersheds. Cumulative precipitation was below normal in all of the state’s major river basins, ranging from 65 to 95 percent of the 30-year average. Winter snowpack was well below normal and summer precipitation was very localized. Streamflow decreased in 14 of the 26 basins and stayed the same in 12 basins. The outlook for the 2012 water year indicates that La Niña conditions will emerge again this coming winter favoring a drier than normal winter and a warmer than normal spring. This will likely result in worsening drought conditions.
Monitoring Technical Committee Presentations: Climate Conditions, 2012 Climate Outlook, Arizona Drought Watch Tree-Ring Record
Reports by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Arizona State Forestry Division and Arizona Game and Fish Department showed that many parts of the state are still suffering from long-term precipitation deficits that affect vegetation health and water supplies as described below:
- The average forage production across Arizona was approximately 56 percent of normal, and the outlook for 2012 is 57 percent of normal or less.
- Wildfires had the largest impact on forest health in 2011, with more than 1,000,000 acres burned. Bark beetles did not present a problem as anticipated, possibly due to a few cold snaps in spring.
- Livestock water shortages occurred throughout the state, and in many cases livestock operators relied on water hauling or reductions in herds.
- Several NRCS field offices reported irrigation water shortages and expected crop production losses ranging from 10 to 90 percent, with serious impacts in the northeastern part of the state where dry-farming practices are prevalent.
- Wildlife habitat is still in poor condition after many years of drought, resulting in diminished wildlife populations.
Based on this information, the ICG made a unanimous decision to recommend that both drought declarations be kept in place:
- Drought Emergency Declaration (PCA 99006) has been in effect since June 1999 and maintains the state’s ability to provide emergency response if needed. It also enables farmers and ranchers to obtain funding assistance through the Farm Service Agency if they experience production losses due to drought.
- The Drought Declaration for the State of Arizona (Executive Order 2007-10) was issued in May 2007 to raise awareness of Arizona’s continuing long-term drought and encourage conservation.
November 17, 2011 Recommendation to the Honorable Janice K. Brewer, Arizona Governor