Snowpack Numbers Add Up to Dismal Water Outlook

Snowpack Numbers Add Up to Dismal Water Outlook

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Samantha Hayes reportingThe water we depend on from the snowpack that is stored in reservoirs has most likely peaked, and it's 4-6 feet below average.

The ride up there is really the best part for hydrologist Randy Julander, because once the measuring starts, "it's as bad as we've ever seen it," he says.

"It" is the snowpack, measured several times a year for depth.

"The first one is how deep the snow is-- 55 inches," Julander says.

It's also measured for something called character- as in wet or dry snow.

"Real light snow tends to compact a lot. Light snow doesn't have any water in it. This is really light snow. That's a bad sign," he says.

Snowfall is measured all over the state, but in this area in the High Uintahs at Trial Lake is really the best indication of how much snow we'll have later on, because this snowpack is what feeds all the major reservoirs.

"When we look at the major reservoir systems, it is going to take several years to get them back to a normal operating capacity," according to Julander.

And that means adjustments in usage will have to be made. "There are a lot of plaace in southern Utah where irrigation has been called off before it starts."

And in the valley managers will make decisions based on Julander's research.

Leroy Hooten of the Salt Lake City Dept. of Public Utilities says, "We are anticipating it, planning it, and we are addressing more of the outdoor use water, where most of the water is used during the summer months."

Water managers will only be able to use half of the water released from Deer Creek Reservoir -- that's less than last year. So, they are considering a rate structure based on how much water residents use.

"We are developing a water management plan which will have different levels of water conservation requirements, including mandatory restrictions," Hooten says.

Right now those rate structures are before the city council. A public hearing is scheduled for later this month.

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