While recent snow has been a welcome sight to water officials, they say the state needs at least 120 percent of normal snowfall to replenish northern Utah's reservoirs.
"We are pleased as can be about what happened in November and hope it continues. In three months we could be out of the woods if the snow is 120 percent of normal," Ivan Flint, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District manager, said.Reports for the end of November show that seven northern Utah reservoirs combined have 45 percent of a two years' supply of water. At the same time in the drought year of 1977, the reservoirs had 43 percent of two-year supply. Last November, water storage was at 53 percent. This year, Pineview, Causey and Echo reservoirs are at the most critical levels.
Drought and high water use this past summer took its toll on water storage. Weber Basin shut off its irrigation system early this year because of low reservoir levels.
Weber Basin stores water in Pineview, Rockport, Willard Bay, Causey, Smith and Morehouse, Lost Creek and East Canyon reservoirs. Smith and Morehouse Reservoir currently has little water because it was drained for the inspection of a recently completed dam. The district provides irrigation and culinary water in Davis and Weber counties.
Flint said one reason a heavier-than-normal snowfall is needed is that two previous drought years have left the ground dry. A greater percentage of spring runoff will be soaked up by the dry ground instead of flowing into reservoirs.
"We need at least 50,000 acre-feet of water and could use 150,000 if we could get it," Flint said.
The seven reservoirs currently have 221,000 acre-feet in storage, down from 264,800 acre-feet last year. This year's storage is only 10,000 acre-feet more than in November 1977.
Grant Salter, district superintendent, said more snow is also needed to help create a a frozen snow base. A frozen base increases the amount of runoff that reaches reservoirs.
"On the Ogden River snow is 103 percent of normal. At Pineview we have had as much snow there as all last year," Salter said.
On the Weber River drainage snow depth is only 82 percent of normal. On upper Chalk Creek above Coalville that feeds Echo Reservoir, snow depth is 79 percent of normal. Above Kamas, at Beaver Divide snowfall is 33 percent of normal. That drainage helps feed Wanship Reservoir.
November water storage
in northern Utah
Reservoir Percent of two-year supply
Causey 33 31
East Canyon 55 36
Echo 49 49
Lost Creek 60 43
Pineview 25 31
Wanship 53 25
Willard Bay 59 59
*1977 was an extreme drought year
Source: Weber Basin Water Conservancy District