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High reservoir levels have water managers watching closely

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Oct. 28, 2011 at 8:23 p.m.

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WEBER COUNTY — Many of Utah's reservoirs are now at 80 percent capacity, about 20 percent higher than normal for this time of year. That could add to flood concerns next spring as more water comes off our mountains.

At Pineview Reservoir nowadays, the morning temperatures can be a bit frosty, but not bad enough to keep Chad Cox and his family from enjoying some fishing. After all, these unusually high water levels can give anglers the upper hand.

"When the water's high, we can get submerged brush. That kind of hides some of the fish," Cox said.

Still, that isn't all good news. Much of that extra water came from the very wet spring Utah saw this year.

To us, (high water levels) means that we have to watch it carefully going into the winter to see if we have too much storage.

–Tage Flint, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District

"To us, it means that we have to watch it carefully going into the winter to see if we have too much storage," said Tage Flint, general manager of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

Engineers at the conservancy district closely monitor eight reservoirs spanning five counties. "Part of our job is to prepare for all situations," Flint said

That could mean saving some of this water for a drought year, or unloading it to prepare for high runoff that could lead to flooding issues like we saw last summer.

If Utah has a really snowy winter, they'll have to start opening release gates and let the water flow out beginning around January. A lot of the nearby rivers and streams would run very high.

Not nearly as bad as we saw over the summer but "a little bit higher river flows than you would normally see in the winter," according to Flint.

Right now, a lot of that extra water is being put to good use helping generate electricity — a process engineers monitor from their Davis County office. How much all this water affects us later will depend on how well employees here can predict the future, a job that is never easy.

"(It is) difficult to always to predict what's going to happen in terms of weather even a month from now, let alone six months from now," Flint said.

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Mike Anderson


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