OGDEN VALLEY, Utah (ABC4) – June 1 is normally the day when Pineview Reservoir is the fullest during the entire year. That’s not the case today. Officials tell ABC4 how low the water levels currently are at the reservoir and what that means for surrounding communities.
At Pineview Reservoir, water levels are 20 feet lower than they should be at this time of year, and officials say this is affecting more than just recreation.
“You know, we’re all just kind of holding our breath,” says Forest Service Ogden District Ranger Sean Harwood. “We’re just waiting to see what actually happens. You know, I mean, we’re supposed to get really hot temperatures over the next couple of weeks and the snowpack is gone.”
Rangers, like Harwood, are anxious to see what this summer brings as the reservoir currently only has 55% of the water it should at this time of the year. As a result of lower water levels, changes are already being made to adapt.
“We have a managed number of boats that are allowed on the lake at high water,” explains Harwood. “We usually start the summer at 375 vessels on the water. We’re already down to 275.”
While boat capacity is lower than it normally would be at this time of year, Harwood says there is a positive to the lower water levels. The reservoir has more beach area exposed for people to lounge.
At this time, Harwood says there are no plans to increase fees. However, with boat capacity being so low, he says those planning on visiting the lake during busy times, like July 4, should pay attention the electric signs Weber County puts up with warnings about the lake reaching capacity.
The lack of water also impacts the cities the reservoir feeds.
“Right now, we’ve got about 60,000-acre feet (of water) in Pineview Reservoir,” says Weber Basin Water Conservancy District Assistant General Manager Darren Hess. “In a normal season, we will use about 50,000-acre feet out of Pineview for deliveries.”
Hess explains starting June 1, the conservancy district is restricting residential and agricultural water use by 20%. What that means for the average homeowner is watering the lawn at most two times a week.
“When people water their lawns, one irrigation cycle, it uses 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water,” states Hess. He says by cutting back to watering the lawn twice a week, the average home will save 12,000 gallons of water a month. Hess tells ABC4 the district knows people are worried their lawns will die. He explains that if a homeowner waters the lawn twice a week and the grass begins to go brown, it is a state of dormancy. When the summer temperatures begin to drop, he says the grass should green back up.
Hess says Pineview Reservoir only got about 15% of the runoff water it gets on an average year. He explains the hot, dry conditions during 2020 caused most of this year’s runoff to be soaked up before if could reach the reservoir. He says the water district hopes people realize by cutting back on water usage this summer, they are helping conserve water for next summer as well.