Water storage levels in the reservoirs of Southern Utah are extremely low and farmers won't find much consolation in the latest streamflow predictions, either, as they look toward the summer irrigation season.
Percent of average water storage varies widely among the reservoirs serving the Sevier and Beaver river basins, ranging from only 9.3 percent at the smaller ones to less than 30 percent for those on which Upper Sevier Basin farmers rely. There is a much brighter water storage picture for those in the Lower Sevier Basin, where the Sevier Bridge Reservoir holds 87 percent of average.Together, the storage levels in five reservoirs total only 30.88 percent of average, according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service.
The small Gunnison and Rocky Ford reservoirs have only slightly above 9 percent of average, having combined storage of only 7,300 acre-feet of water. The Otter Creek Reservoir has slightly more water than a year ago, but the 52,700 acre-feet capacity holding facility has only 16,100 acre feet, 23.8 percent of average. The Piute Reservoir, with a capacity of 71,800, has 21,000 acre-feet on storage, only about half the amount of last year and 29.3 percent of average.
The largest of the Sevier River reservoirs serves the west Millard County area, and farmers will probably get through the irrigation season with an ample supply of water, although there is much less than a year ago when the Sevier Bridge Reservoir contained 122,200 acre-feet. This year's storage is 94,800. The reservoir can hold 236,000 acre-feet.
Water in the snowpack on the Sevier and Beaver river watersheds is nearly double that of a year ago but is still only 73 percent of average.
Streamflow forecasts indicate there is little chance of spring runoff reaching the average flow of the last 25 years. Officials predict probable percent of averages varying from 56 to 74 percent among the 20 stations.
Five reservoirs are listed in the report under Carbon, Emery, Wayne, Grand and San Juan counties, and they contain a combined average of only 19.5 percent of the long-time water storage average. The largest, Scofield and Joe's Valley, are storing 30.3 and 42.7 percent of average, respectively.
The Scofield has only 7,200 acre-feet of water and can store 65,800. The storage compares with 11,200 acre-feet last year. Joe's Valley, with a storage capacity of 61,600, is about 40 percent of capacity with 24,300 acre feet. That figure compares with 34,400 acre feet last year.
Water content in the snowpack on seven watersheds in the five counties is about 42 percent of the long-time average. The Willow Creek and White River Watershed is the lowest with 38 percent of average while Muddy Creek is the highest with 64 percent.
Streamflow forecasts range form a low of 44 percent to a high of 81 percent.
Quail Creek Reservoir near St. George, now storing water after extensive construction work required because of flood damage, now holds 15,000 acre-feet, while its capacity is 40,000. Small reservoirs listed in the report under East Garfield, Kane, Washington and Iron counties have small amounts of water.
It was reported that Lake Powell had 15,761,000 acre-feet, down from 18,892,000 acre-feet of water it held a year ago. It has a capacity of 25,002,000 acre-feet.