Bureau of Reclamation prepares for high spring runoff

Posted at 7:28 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-28 09:10:41-04

PROVO, Utah -- At a press conference Monday morning, Bureau of Reclamation Provo Area Manager Wayne Pullan talked about reservoir water levels in the area, most of which are full or near-full.

“In 2017, mother nature threw us a knuckleball,” he said, referring to the unpredictable weather.

Pullan talked about the snow pack that started slowly; it was dry from November to December. By the end of the year, however, mother nature flipped the switch.

“We live in the desert and so we’re thankful for any water that we can receive," said Public Affairs Officer for the Upper Colorado Region Marlon Duke. "This year we’ve received a lot more than normal.”

Some of the reservoirs in the state are already 99% full, like Deer Creek Reservoir.

By the first half of March, the Provo Bureau of Reclamation recorded up to 200% of snow pack in their area. Pullan said it's great news for conservation efforts, but also nerve-wracking because that snow pack has to come down. With a warm, dry March, runoff started much earlier than expected.

Pullan said their worst case scenario is a long, cool spring and then the temperatures suddenly turn hot. He referenced the Salt Lake City flood in 1983 as an example; he said it was a year where it stayed cool for awhile and they had a large snow pack that year.

Best case scenario is spring warms up early so the snow melts gradually. Pullan said that will help with the aging infrastructure, which was built from 1930 through 1980.