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Water Situation Grim as Water Year Ends

Water Situation Grim as Water Year Ends

Posted - Sep. 29, 2003 at 4:35 p.m.



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Jed Boal ReportingThe bad news keeps getting worse for our water situation. Reservoir levels have dropped to historic lows and the longer it lasts the longer it will take to turn it around. The water year ends tomorrow and it won't surprise anyone that there is no end in sight to the drought.

We had some good rainfall earlier this month, but the state is drying out again and desperately needs a good soaking. As this water year ends all we can do is look ahead and hope--maybe next year.

As the fall foliage peaks in Northern Utah many trees and plants are simply shriveling up. Utah's drought is tightening its stranglehold even more. Hydrologist Randy Julander sums it up.

Randy Julander, Utah Snow Survey: “Dismal, to say it in its best possible light."

Take a look at the Yuba Reservoir in Central Utah. It's one percent full, about as bad as it gets in the state. The Sevier River System is severely depleted and will likely have little or no reserves next year.

Deer Creek Reservoir, a major source for the Wasatch Front is about one-third full, exposing more garbage and debris than ever before. Jordanelle and Strawberry reservoirs are just above 70 percent; and Bear Lake is at 10 percent of capacity.

The biggest problem right now is the lack of moisture in the soil. It's bone dry as far as we could test. That means the first eight to ten inches of snow pack next winter will soak into the soil rather than running off in streams and into the reservoirs."

Randy Julander, Utah Snow Survey: “That can translate into as much as 50 percent of next year’s snow pack already lost off the top. So if you're looking for an average to salvage us, it's just not going to."

So even with average precipitation this winter, the state would fall further into deficit next year and it could continue.

Randy Julander, Utah Snow Survey: “You could certainly extend this drought out another couple of years. Certainly something we don't want to see happen."

The hydrologists says what the state needs right now is five inches of rain to saturate the soil. And we're still waiting for a big winter.

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