While it has been widely reported that the runoff of 2013 is a healthy and normal one, this is not true for most of Utah and the Wasatch Front. The Wasatch Front canyons did receive a normal amount of precipitation. However, the moisture that falls in those canyons cannot be saved and is lost as soon as the runoff is over. Much of the water used by the Salt Lake/Provo/Ogden area comes from behind the Wasatch Front in the Uinta Mountains, which provide a great portion of our water needs. This water is captured by the Provo River Project and other similar water projects. These projects are able to store this water in reservoirs such as Deer Creek, Jordanelle, Strawberry and others. Because of the reservoirs, we are able to have a steady flow of water for our homes and yards throughout the year.
In 2013, the Uinta mountain snowpack for this year ranged around 70% of normal precipitation. But the runoff is only going to amount to 50% or less, because of how much water is percolating into the ground. It looks like the 2013 water year will go down in history as one of the driest.
Association staff is earnestly focused on maximizing water rights, collection and storage in order to provide the most water possible for its shareholders. There has been and continues to be much coordination between the various water agencies and the Utah State Engineer’s Office to make sure the small amount of water available is utilized as effectively as possible and according to proper water rights. Association operations and maintenance personnel are paying close attention to varying runoff rates, daily diurnal fluctuations, and the operating condition of all water collection and conveyance facilities. Operators are on duty 24 hours a day to monitor conditions and make corrections as necessary using the SCADA System. The Watermaster and maintenance personnel are out in the field making personal inspections and repairs to keep everything functioning properly.
The Association is grateful this year for the Provo River Aqueduct. In prior low-water years, the Provo Reservoir Canal experienced a higher-than-normal canal loss rate due to the low velocity of the water. The Aqueduct’s new welded-steel pipe prevents seepage and evaporation losses, regardless of the water available. The Provo River Aqueduct is working as designed and is meeting its expectations.