Reservoirs below average levels as secondary water shuts off in Northern Utah

Northern Utah News

(ABC4) – On Monday, residents in five northern Utah counties will have their secondary water shut off. This is about a month earlier than usual and is due to the drought. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District tells ABC4 this winter will play a big part in next summer’s irrigation.

According to Assistant General Manager Jonathan Parry, water reserves are low across the entire Weber Basin Water Conservancy District. Secondary water will be shut off on September 20 to prepare for next year.

“Leaving this irrigation season and entering next year’s with an average storage in that 15 to 20 percent (range), and that is our drinking water supply. That is what we’ve got reserved and ready to go into next year,” Parry explains.

To put that into perspective, Parry says on a normal year the irrigation season ends with an average water storage with water levels around 50 percent capacity across the district’s reservoirs.

“It’s going to take some time to recover. Typically we’ve got a two-year water supply in the Weber Basin drainage in the form of our reservoir storage,” Parry explains. “So we’ve been eating into this storage for the past 18, 24 months, so it’s a two-year supply and we’re two years into a drought. We’d expect these reservoirs to be pretty low.”

Parry says although water storage is lower than a typical year, it’s not all bad news. The conservancy district planned to shut off the secondary water in West Haven on Sept. 1. However, late-summer rains and the residents’ commitment to conservation allowed that date to be pushed back to September 20 to match the other cities. Parry says West Haven residents used around 170,000,000 gallons less this year compared to the average of the last four years.

As the summer is coming to an end, the conservancy district is looking ahead.

“We do need a pretty aggressive, above-average (winter) to get us starting to recover from these drought conditions,” Parry says.

Parry explains that high soil moisture during the fall plus an early freeze would help create better runoff from the snowpack. This will all affect next summer’s irrigation opportunities.

“It’s too early to say what the restrictions would be but short of some sort of banner year where we get way above what we typically do on average, I would expect some restrictions to be in place,” Parry states.

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