Snow rather than rain main factor in state’s water supply

Posted at 4:54 PM, Oct 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-01 19:44:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Tuesday marked the end of Utah's water year. As of Wednesday, all new rain and snow will be tallied up for next year.

It has been a tough two or three years for the ongoing drought in the southwestern United States. Here in Utah we have had a lot of rain lately, but as we head into the winter months, what we really need is the snow.

Rain fall for certain areas of the state were up to 200 percent higher than average in July, August and September compared to previous years, but officials said it’s not enough when it comes to the state’s overall water supply.

Brian Mcinerney is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, and he spoke about the state’s water needs.

“This is the time that we need the most water to come into the reservoirs to make sure we have water for the summer months, and we’ve had three years of below average inflow, and it’s unfortunate,” he said.

Officials said rainfall saturates the ground but doesn’t necessarily add significant amounts of water to reservoirs, and the slow, widespread snow melt that comes in spring is what makes the difference.

“Summertime rains really don’t add into our water supply equation,” Mcinerney said. “Where you get water supply is spring snow melt.”

Tage Flint of the Weber County Conservancy District said the drought conditions mean there were early cut offs of water to farmers and officials requests to residents to turn off their landscaping water for the season.

“First of all, we encourage everyone to look at their landscapes,” Flint said. “Your plants are now going dormant. They really don’t need much, if any, water from here on out."

Mcinerney came to the FOX 13 News Studio Wednesday to discuss the state's water needs in greater detail, see the video below for his comments.