Most Utah residents know the majority of the water supply in northern Utah comes from snowpack. This means that lackluster winters result in lighter spring runoff.
Reservoirs used to store water for drinking, irrigation and agriculture suffer because they are unable to fill and recover from the previous year's water use. In Utah, snow is the lifeblood of our economy and quality of life.
Weber Basin Water Conservancy District provides water to a service area with nearly 700,000 residents in Davis, Weber, Morgan, Summit and part of Box Elder counties. The district is committed to protecting existing water resources, using them wisely and providing for the future. This commitment requires collaborative and innovative strategies and programs with robust public involvement and support.
Past water managers planned for future water needs of our area using the best information available and oversaw the construction of storage reservoirs the district manages today including Willard Bay, Pineview, Causey, Lost Creek, East Canyon, Rockport, and Smith & Morehouse.
These reservoirs provide the ability to store snowmelt runoff for delivery of water to customers throughout the year as well as the ability to weather drought conditions over multiple years. Today's planning and conservation efforts will similarly play a critical role in ensuring a resilient water supply for use by future district residents.
At the end of March, the Bear River region snow water equivalent percent of median was 80%, down from 107% at this time a year ago. In the Weber/Ogden-Rivers region the recordings showed 75% compared to 100% in 2020. Soil moisture within the drainage is also at historic lows, which means a large portion of the runoff will not make it to the streams and rivers and won't be available for storage in reservoirs.
The most recent runoff forecasts show a projected runoff that is 30%-40% of the 30-year average.
At the end of March, Willard Bay was 66% full, Pineview 55%, and Causey, 61%. Other reservoirs such as Lost Creek were at 63%, East Canyon, 68%, and Rockport, 62%, Smith and Morehouse, 24%, and Echo 42%.
Based on current projections, it's unlikely these reservoirs will fill this season. In response to the prolonged drought conditions, on March 17 Governor Spencer Cox issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency. Drought restrictions are in place with irrigation users expected to reduce their water use by 20% and to plan for an early termination to the irrigation season on Oct. 1.
The efficient and sustainable use of this limited resource remains a focus of Weber Basin Water Conservancy District. This includes accommodating growth, preparing for whatever climate may become the new norm and continuing to develop more sustainable water use.
All Utah residents need to constantly look for ways to eliminate wasteful watering habits and to encourage the efficient use of our water by making landscape changes and adopting better water use behavior. In Utah, anywhere from 60%-70% of the average household's total water use for the year is used outdoors.
Weber Basin Water Conservancy District encourages all residents to take advantage of its conservation programs including rebates and educational opportunities. District members should look for opportunities in their own spheres to reduce water use through improved efficiencies and landscape changes.
The district operates a public learning garden at its headquarters in Layton at 2837 East Highway 193. It also offers classes throughout the spring and summer that teach the principles of water-wise landscaping. Details can be found on the website at https://weberbasin.com/Conservation/LearningGarden.