Spring runoff update

As we approach the end of May, HAL’s Kayson Shurtz and Rob Sowby provide an update on Utah’s water conditions.

The reservoir storage outlook is great. Coming the wettest winter on record in 2023, many of the reservoirs in the state rebounded from the drought that preceded. Looking at the storage capacity of all reservoirs in the state (excluding Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge) we are sitting at about 90% full.

So far this year temperatures have been moderate, and several cold spells have reduced flood potential from spring runoff. As runoff continues, reservoirs will likely fill, and the excess can go to water bodies that really need it like Lake Powell and Great Salt Lake, the vital signs of the West’s water resources. Those lakes will take multiple years of good runoff years to fully rebound.

The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center estimates the total remaining runoff volume to Lake Powell for this season to be about 84% of average. The projected runoff should produce a rise of 30 feet in the lake.

In the other half of the state, Great Salt Lake is as full as it has been in many years. The lake is currently sitting at 4195 feet, about 7 feet higher than its record low in 2022, but still below the healthy range of 4198–4205 feet. HAL has supported state agencies in the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan, which seeks reliable water supply for all users in the watershed, and a rising lake, bolstered by two wet winters, is welcome news for everyone.

See more with the Great Salt Lake Hydro Mapper.

Photo: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, May 2024

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