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Front Page » June 11, 2013 » Carbon County News » Report confirms what you already know: it's dry, and get...
Published 557 days ago

Report confirms what you already know: it's dry, and getting worse


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It doesn't take a water specialist to know that things are dry and that this past winter had nothing like normal precipitation. But that was definitely confirmed by the Natural Resource Conservation Service experts in their monthly water report.

According to the report, current runoff in Utah is mostly below to much below average for non?regulated stream flow across many areas of Utah. Most rivers are in recession and flows will be at summer base flows quickly.

Snow packs have melted out over the entire state at this point. Much of this year's snowmelt has gone to recharge soil moisture which is currently average in the north and dry in the south. Southeastern Utah is exceptionally dry and this is reflected in the observed streamflows.

May precipitation was below average statewide, in the north (60?80 percent) and in the south (70?90 percent). Reservoir storage overall is 15 percent less than last year, near 73 percent of capacity across the state. This is up just one percent from May's figure of 72 percent of capacity. This fact indicates that the state has used much of this year's runoff as it came into the reservoirs.

Reservoir storage in some areas such as the San Pitch (0 percent), Southeast Utah (56 percent), and the Enterprise area (24 percent) are very low. Poor runoff conditions will and already have had impacts on agriculture across the state with water allocation cuts.

The National Climate Prediction Center forecasts for the area suggest warmer conditions for the next three months. Based on all available water supply data, (reservoir storage, observed streamflow, climate forecasts, etc) agricultural producers and others will have to determine how best to manage current water supplies in order to minimize risk and maximize production in what is now back to back water limited years.

In the local area precipitation in May was near average at 98%, which brings the seasonal accumulation (Oct-May) to 82 percent of average. Soil moisture is at 65 percent compared to 61% last year. Reservoir storage is at 56 percent of capacity, compared to 85 percent last year.

Most importantly because of the low storage the water availability index for the Price River is 20 percent and 19 percent for Joe's Valley. The Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) is a predictive indicator of total surface water availability within a watershed for spring and summer water use seasons. The index is calculated by combining pre-runoff reservoir storage (carryover) with forecasts of spring and summer streamflow which are based on current snowpack and other hydrologic variables. SWSI values are scaled from +4.1 (abundant supply) to -4.1 (extremely dry) with a value of zero (0) indicating media water supply as compared to historical analysis.

Current storage at Scofield Reservoir, western and central Carbon County's main water supply is at about 55 percent. Others storage percentages in the area are: Miller Flat Reservoir, 62 percent; Cleveland Lake, 75 percent; Huntington North, 76 percent; Joes Valley, 63 percent and Millsite Reservoir, 30 percent.

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June 11, 2013
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