Just when you were getting used to the idea of another summer of water shortages, you may have to recondition yourself, several officials say.
Merril Bingham, Provo City Water Resources Department director, said water levels in the front-range-area mountains and the back country are higher than they've been for several years."I feel a lot better about things than I did a year ago," he said. "This is looking more like a normal year than in the past."
The water level at Deer Creek Reservoir is also improving and the Provo River Water Users Association superintendent said the reservoir is expected to fill this year.
"We are going to be able to declare that it will fill," Jack Gardner said. "This last storm changed the picture considerably. Everything looks better."
Mayor Joe Jenkins said, "After three dry years we're really happy to see this kind of moisture in the mountains to take care of the water needs in the city. On the other hand, we should still continue to try to instigate measures to conserve water and not be complacent just because we have a good amount of moisture."
Snowpack at the Timpanogos Divide Station is nearly double last year's April peak of 10.8 inches.
The 25-year average for snowpack water levels at the Timpanogos Station is 23.6 inches, which puts the station only four inches behind. The station is on the Alpine Loop near the Cascade Springs turnoff and represents the snowpack in the immediate Provo area.
Water at the Timpanogos Station feeds the city's spring areas and aquifers in the valley for well pumping. Once that water is used, water for the rest of the summer and for irrigation purposes comes from the Trial Lake Station in the Uinta Mountains, 25 miles east of Kamas.
The Trial Lake water level was below normal until the past few storms went through the state, Bingham said. The station is now at 100 percent of its average for this date, based on a 25-year history, and within two inches of the average peak of 26.2 inches. The peak normally occurs the third week in April.
And while precipitation is greatly needed, Bingham said there's no need to fear it may continue and eventually cause flooding. "We've got a long ways to go with flooding. Flooding from snowmelt is not a threat this year at this point. Soil moistures are way down from last fall."
He said the precipitation will help recharge the city's deep aquifers and bring spring water production up from last year. With less demand on pumping the wells for water, costs of operation will decrease and the wells will be able to recover from the past few dry years.
The Provo River water level will also benefit from the precipitation, Bingham said. Last fall the river was lowered to 85 cubic feet per second because of water shortage concerns. An attempt to lower the river to 50 cfs was protested by sportsmen who felt that it would endanger the fishery.
According to an environmental impact study done for the Central Utah Project, a flow of 100 cfs is required to maintain the fishery adequately.
The river water level has slowly increased with the rainfall and snow melt. "Anything in the way of precipitation will help that situation," Bingham said. "Hopefully it will look more like a normal year than in the past. It can't help but help the situation."
Forest Service officials are also expecting the moist soil and greener vegetation to help cut down forest fires this summer.