Some southern and other Utah communities may be having the jitters about water supplies, but supplies appear adequate for the summer in the Salt Lake Valley.
Despite rapid snowmelt this spring, Salt Lake's water outlook is better than it was a year ago, according to Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department.And meteorologists at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service say the 90-day forecast calls for temperatures near normal and above normal precipitation.
"Last summer was one of the hottest and driest on record. Hopefully, we won't have a repeat of that. Hopefully, we will have a wetter summer this year, but I really don't have a chart that tells me that," said William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office, National Weather Service.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake City Water Superintendent Wendell Evensen said Wednesday he sees no need to ration water as is already being required or contemplated in some areas of Utah.
"In fact, we will have sufficient water in our supplies to release water to the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District. We will sell the district as much water as it needed to get through last summer," Evensen said.
That statement sparked a feeling of optimism. Alder said last summer (June through August) was the hottest and second driest in 115 years in the Salt Lake Valley.
Conservancy district general manager David G. Ovard said he expects the district will get through this year without any major water problems.
"Our main concern is through September. A lot will depend on the weather in September. We have had several years of drought. Even though the snowpack is below normal, we feel there is enough water storage on hand that we will probably get through this year all right," Ovard said.
The conservancy district is mainly a water wholesaler, serving a population of about 450,000 in West Valley City, West Jordan, South Jordan, Riverton, Bluffdale, South Salt Lake, Sandy, Midvale, Draper and parts of Murray.
Evensen said the water supply was very low last summer because Salt Lake City was trying to assist a number of areas served by the conservancy district.
"We made (extra) water available to (the district so it) would not run short. . . . There were several days in a row when the temperature was about 100 degrees. It was a very unusual summer," Evensen said.
The superintendent said St. Mary's and Twin Lakes, two small reservoirs above Brighton, will fill this summer. Mountain Dell Reservoir has overflowed, but extra water coming in from streams is being treated and delivered to the Salt Lake Valley, he said.
"Last year Salt Lake City did not use the Parleys Canyon water treatment plant but was reserving water in Mountain Dell for use during the fall. This year it looks like we will have enough water in the streams to treat water in the treatment plant at Parleys, and we have a full allotment of 61,700 acre feet of water in Deer Creek Reservoir," Evensen said. That means the city has sufficient water for its own needs besides releasing water for the rest of the Salt Lake Valley.
Intermittent thunderstorms would greatly help the water situation. There were a few last summer, but they didn't produce a great deal of moisture, Alder said.
The meteorologist said conditions are better at Wasatch Front reservoirs than they were a year ago this time.
"Groundwater is about average or above average. We are in better shape now than we were a year ago this time. But farmers who don't have allocations from reservoirs will be hurting. So will smaller water districts because the snow is melting too fast; there was not a lot of snowpack to begin with in their areas," Alder said.
Snowpack was about normal during the winter in the northern mountains but was a little above normal in the Ogden River and Weber River drainages.
The Salt Lake airport received 60.5 inches of snow during the entire winter. Seasonable normal is 59.2 inches, Alder said.