Experts discuss impact of rain fall on state water levels

Posted at 10:06 PM, Aug 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-11 00:06:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Portions of Utah have experienced flooding recently due to heavy rain fall, but officials said these heavy rains don’t contribute much to the state’s overall water levels.

Randy Julander, Snow Survey Supervisor for Natural Resources Conservation Service Utah, said the summer months don’t add much to the overall water picture.

“For the entire summer season--three months--July, August, September, normally you are only going to get a percent of the, one percent of the annual total spring flow is derived from summertime precipitation,” Julander said.

Julander said the rain helps refill reservoirs and naturally water lawns and farm lands—which means less pull on reservoirs.

"That’s the net benefit that we see, is that people aren’t using nearly as much,” he said. “We save a bunch in our reservoir. Every drop that we don’t use today is one that we can use later on in the fall, or even next year.”

Reservoir water storage in Utah is at about 60 percent capacity, which is a decrease of about 2 percent in comparison to last year’s levels around this same time. Julander said they expect to be at about 50 percent capacity by the end of September.

Officials said snow melt is the biggest contributor when it comes to ground water levels. Julander said the slow melt over the course of several months allows for better absorption by the soil.

Julander said recent floods are a result of soil not being able to absorb all of the precipitation.

“If you put an inch or two inches of heavy precipitation in a short period of time, an hour or two, you can generate these kinds of flash floods in most locations across the state,” he said.