Spring runoff lacking in waterways this year


You may have noticed that creeks and streams looked to be a bit lower this spring, and you would be correct.

Our lower than average snowpack has been a major issue this season, and Jordan Clayton, supervisor for the Utah Snow Survey, confirms that.

“So the snowpack is falling apart right now. This is what we expect this time of year when we have warm conditions, but unfortunately we were off to a sort of poorer start with our snowpack anyways.”

With the warmer weather, we expect to see our snowpack beginning to deplete, but that usually comes with at least some runoff making it to the creeks, streams, and rivers.

A lack of snowpack cannot be the sole reason behind our lack of water. What else could be causing this issue for us?

“What we’ve been predicting all spring is that we’re going to have really, really poor runoff conditions and what we’ve been seeing is unfortunately below average snowpack coupled with really, really dry soils,” answers Clayton.

The extremely dry soils are now absorbing a lot of the moisture coming from the runoff, and very little is now making it to our waterways. While some absorption is expected during this time, our current drought has made it even worse.

Clayton adds on that the loss of water to soil absorption has impacted the replenishment of our water resources that we use.

“95% or more of our water that we use in the state of Utah comes from snow, and so when we don’t get the snowpack we were hoping for in a given winter and on top of that or below that I should say, when the soils are so dry we lose a lot of that moisture that we otherwise have gotten. We just don’t replenish our streams and reservoirs the way that we’d normally see.”

This is causing a concern for many agencies in Utah, especially as we continue into our driest and warmest months under our exceptional drought, that we will have to face very tough conditions this summer.

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