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Water Reserves Are High Despite Low Snowpack

Water Reserves Are High Despite Low Snowpack



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Dan Pope Reporting With this year's snowpack showing signs of stress, the forecast for Utah's river run-off is dismal at best.

The latest river run-off outlook was released yesterday, and there was no surprise. It doesn't look very optimistic for Utah's waterways.

What comes down from the sky will eventually appear in our rivers and streams. And, this year's snowpack is showing about two thirds of its normal for this time of the year. We can always use all the water we can get.

There is less than a 10% chance we will reach normal numbers by spring. Now that would seem to be an unpleasant update for all of us who want to garden or water our yards.

Brian McInerney, who is a hydrologist at the National Weather Service, tells me what the latest numbers mean.

Brian McInerney, Hydrologist: "We have very good ground water stores, we have good soil moisture, and our reservoir storage is actually above normal for this time of the year. The thing that is really bad is the snowpack."

OK, so, with two previous banner years of precipitation, our reservoirs have been replenished in a big way. They are ready to deliver when the weather turns hot and dry this summer.

Strawberry Reservoir stands at 219% of normal, while Deer Creek has 130%, and Pineview is 105%.

Managers have been holding back all the water they can in order to prepare for the drier-than-normal weather. These local lakes and rivers are much more important for us along the Wasatch Front than, say, Lake Powell or Flaming Gorge.

Bart Forsyth, Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District: "The good news is the previous two years we've seen excellent snowpack across the north. As a result our water storage is in good shape."

The bottom line here is, whether we're in a wet cycle or a drought, we all have to do our part to "Slow the Flow." We will have to get into a mindset--all the time--we have to conserve our use of water. Planting drought-resistant plants and less grass and using drip irrigation are a few suggestions. As we near the watering season, and the snowpack will likely remain much lower than normal, there is some good news: Our reservoirs and lakes are in pretty good shape.

The odds are slightly higher our next two winters will be wetter than normal, because overall we're still in a four- to six-year soggy cycle.

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