Water Year Starts With Hope -- For More Water

Water Year Starts With Hope -- For More Water

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Reservoirs that serve Weber, Morgan, Box Elder and Davis counties entered the new water year Monday at 40 percent full, down from 65 percent a year ago.

Rain during the last two weekends in September was not enough to make a significant difference in northern Utah.

"It was as severe as we've seen in the 100-year history, with lack of precipitation," Tage Flint, executive director of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, said of the summer.

The reservoir system is designed to hold a two-year supply, so even a moderate snowfall in winter should leave enough water for next summer.

Oct. 1 is recognized as the start of the water year in Utah. The Salt Lake City area reported nearly 11 inches of precipitation through Sunday, more than 5 inches below normal.

Charles Holmgren, a Box Elder farmer and president of the Bear River Canal Company, said farmers are studying crops that won't take a lot of water.

Wheat needs a lot of water in spring, but then can do fairly well on less. High prices reflect a worldwide shortage of wheat.

"We can almost get by on natural flow in the spring" instead of pumping water out of Bear Lake, Holmgren said. "But, you know, everybody keeps hoping that things will turn around and someday it will snow."

He said clouds will be seeded this winter in hopes of coaxing more water, but "I hope there's a cloud there to turn the cloud seeding on."

Farmers and people in cities watering lawns aren't the only ones who depend on rain. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, home of millions of birds, is also feeling the pinch.

Director Bob Barrett said the refuge was only able to keep water in three of its 26 management units, which are diked-off sections typically flooded in wet years.

"Wildlife in general are fairly resilient. It doesn't affect overall production. ... It's when we get into prolonged drought conditions you'll see some effect," he said.


Information from: Standard-Examiner

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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