Utah reservoirs are spilling, and that's a good thing. Here's why

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  • iceskatercjudd Coalville, UT
    June 13, 2019 4:16 p.m.

    People tend to have a poor understanding of predictive statistical models. Statistical models are terrible at predicting a singular incident, but are designed to predict an aggregate of incidents. If a model predicts that we will see a XX decline in rainfall over the next 30 years, it likely has a strong point of certainty in that outcome. That doesn't mean that there won't be aberrations in that model. Flip a coin 100 times and you will get near 50 heads and 50 tails, but you can't use that to predict whether your next flip will be heads or tails. Same thing here. This happens in political forecasts a lot. 538 predicted a 67% chance for Hillary to win and 33% for Trump. People said that the forecasts were wrong because Trump one, but not necessarily. The forecast had Trump winning 1/3 times, which are not terrible odds to begin with.

    It is always a bad idea to rely on statistical forecasts to predict singular events and remember that they are much stronger at predicting trends or an aggregate of outcomes.

    June 13, 2019 12:44 p.m.


    "If the climate models can't even predict the weather a year in advance with any degree of certainty, then why should anyone trust them when they predict a significantly hotter climate a decade or century from now?"

    You answered your own question with that first phrase. GCMs (general circulation models) model *climate* not weather. Weather is an individual instance of a climatic outcome, while climate is an aggregate/average of all weather events. Don't use GCMs to forecast weather a year in advance--they won't work because they aren't intended to predict weather a year in advance. They rather give multi-year predictions of ranges of climatic averages and trends.

  • FelisConcolor Layton, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:46 p.m.

    "I wonder how long it will be before the climate change deniers start saying; "this is proof there is no global warming, we have snow in our backyard." "

    Here's a fun exercise: Go back and scan the news stories from just last fall and see if you can find someone -- anyone -- from the scientific community who correctly predicted the near-record precipitation this past winter and spring.

    When Governor Herbert signed the drought emergency declaration last October, I don't remember a single meteorologist saying "This really isn't necessary; our models predict the state will have an exceptionally wet winter".

    Indeed, virtually all of them said the opposite: Utah was in a drought, the Great Salt Lake was disappearing, Lake Powell would soon be dry, and it was all going to get worse due to climate change.

    If the climate models can't even predict the weather a year in advance with any degree of certainty, then why should anyone trust them when they predict a significantly hotter climate a decade or century from now?

  • emb Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 12, 2019 5:54 p.m.

    Glad for the water.

  • bemorefair , 00
    June 12, 2019 3:44 p.m.

    Crazy how quickly Mother Nature can turn things around. I wish this year was the rule rather than the exception. It's glorious to have all this water and the cooler temperatures are most definitely welcome!

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2019 1:28 p.m.

    @ quackquack

    So I’m guessing you have a thing against data centers. I haven’t looked into it, but it seems that using water as a coolant only changes the temperature. It could still water some grass and trees.


    Water rights can be modified. And it is also important to let enough water go down stream. We actually don’t want the Great Salt Lake to dry up. However, we also don’t need Utah Lake to lose 50% of its inflow to evaporation. We could dredge it.

    Also, rather than capture the runoff in one area, we can simply slow it down through a series of small dams and reservoirs which we would completely drain over the summer. Slowing down a runoff from overflowing river banks is not going to harm anyone’s water rights. It would just provide a more steady flow.

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    June 12, 2019 1:12 p.m.

    I live in Central Utah. We do not have a reservoir to capture the excessive runoff (and our river is currently flooding a small, minor amount). Why do we not have a reservoir? Because of environmentalists. We actually submitted plans to build one... 80 years ago. We've been trying for over 80 years to build a reservoir, but leftists and environmentalists from out east have steadily blocked it. We've even tried to get Congress to pass a specific authorization, but no, the coastal leftists think they know better and they absolutely refuse to allow it be built, even if it would provide safe hydro power that is renewable.

    But they don't want new renewable energy, because they want us all in the dark starving and freezing to death.

  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:26 a.m.

    This is proof there is no global warming, we have snow in our backyard.

    June 12, 2019 11:26 a.m.

    "When the data is released later this year, it will be the first time the water world has a full understanding of the reservoir's true capacity,"

    It will give an understanding of the reservoir's *current* capacity, but that is subject to change as sediment continues to accumulate.


    Oil and water are not comparable in price at the volumes that can be delivered long distances by pipelines. As far as I know, the engineering is possible. The economics are prohibitive, though. Current water rates in Salt Lake County put the price per block (748 gallons) at the highest tier is $3.69, or $0.0049/gal. At today's oil price, oil is over $1.40/gal. That's 200 times larger than what people are paying for water for municipal use. Agricultural use is typically valued much less than municipal. I don't know the costs of building oil pipelines, but I'm guessing it's not profitable at 1/200th of current oil prices.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    June 12, 2019 11:03 a.m.

    To "quackquack" at least 1/3 of the water from the data center is recycled. Nearly all of the water used to cool the system could be recycled. As for the Air Conditioning system, that does not use water. Air Conditioners use Freon to cool the air. When in use an Air Conditioner will REMOVE water from the air, which could be captured and recycled.

  • MabelPines Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 12, 2019 10:00 a.m.

    @Harrison Bergeron, @quackquack

    You can't just capture all the water in one area. Water rights are tricky, tricky things. People downstream own their shares of the water too, and even in a surplus, excess must be allowed to distribute down the chain.


    Environmentalists and lawmakers (mostly from back east, where water storage isn't as necessary) have effectively blocked all dams and reservoirs for decades. Most dams were constructed after WWI, the most recent ones built back in the 80's. We can't even clear dead wood to prevent gigantic fires like last summer, can you imagine the uproar if we tried to dig up thousands of miles for a pipe? Your ideas are good ones, that would get strangled in all the red tape of some group trying to preserve a species of beetle.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:08 a.m.

    We should build more dams. Furthermore, if we can build oil pipelines across the country, why can't we build water pipelines that reduce the risk of flooding in areas often flooded by diverting water to places in the country that often experience drought?

  • ConservativeCommonTater Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:00 a.m.

    I wonder how long it will be before the climate change deniers start saying; "this is proof there is no global warming, we have snow in our backyard."

  • quackquack Park City, UT
    June 12, 2019 7:22 a.m.

    @Harrison Bergeron - Salt Lake City, UT
    "We need to capture the overabundance and release it during the lean times."

    Why ? Utah would just sell it like they sell every other natural resource, Bluffdale City & Hatch sold the NSA 1.2 million gallons of water a day to cool their data center, How many more Data center are popping up here in Utah as of now Facebook & Amazon have their data centers here. All these Data center use Air Conditioning to cool the data centers those Air Conditioning units use hundreds of gallons of water per day.

  • Fubijag West Jordan, UT
    June 12, 2019 7:09 a.m.

    This time last year the level was 20 feet higher because the snow melt and runoff was nearly complete in the mountains upriver. This year the runoff has barely started due to the cooler temperatures. With the large amount of snow still needing to come down, lake powell will be much higher after this summer than it was last year.

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2019 8:37 p.m.

    A state that routinely has to take serious flood control measures does not have a water shortage; it has an uneven water supply. We need to capture the overabundance and release it during the lean times.

    June 11, 2019 8:24 p.m.

    "Lake Powell, too, is slowly coming up and will fill some more, added Cory Angeroth, director of the U.S. Geological Survey's Utah Science Center.

    The lake sits at an elevation of 3,591.7 feet compared to 3,612 feet this time last year."

    So, Lake Powell being 20 feet lower than it was last year at this time is a good thing? Is that because the temperature has been cooler so it will continue to rise over a longer period of time or ?