Water Year Ends on Positive Note

Water Year Ends on Positive Note

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Jed Boal ReportingSaturday marks the end of the water year as we measure it here in Utah, and for the second straight year we're in much better shape than we were during the extended drought.

Snow in the mountains last week reminded us that summer is over, but it also showed us what a difference a few years can make. Three years ago all of Utah was parched, desperate for a few years, even a few months of steady rain and snow.

Fortunately, we got it, snow caps the mountains this early fall. Take a look at the peaks above Big Cottonwood Canyon. All aspects of the hydrological cycle look positive.

Brian McInerney, National Weather Service Hydrologist: "We've basically had normal precipitation, to above normal statewide, with the exception of a small area near San Juan County."

Ground water levels improved greatly in the last two years. Soil is moist and saturated. Stream flows are steady. Nearly all reservoirs statewide are at more than adequate levels for the fall.

As always, the most important component of our overall water picture is the amount of snowpack in the mountains. We're off to a good start in September, but we'll have to see what happens in the next few months.

Brian McInerney, National Weather Service Hydrologist: "This year, we've got a slight El Nino, and it could go to a moderate El Nino. If it does, we could be wetter than normal in southern Utah, and possibly wetter than normal in northern Utah."

We always need the snow and run-off to recharge the reservoirs. From 2000 to 2004, we drew down our reservoirs more each year.

Brian McInerney/National Weather Service Hydrologist: "2005 reversed that. 2006 was a very good water year. Now we're heading into 2007 with the hydrologic indexes looking very good, at this point."

Even though we've had a wet September, we always need a lot of rain throughout the fall to saturate the soil. That ensures a better run-off in the spring.

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