August Rains Not Helping Utah's Water Supply

By Rick Aaron

Published 08/19 2014 09:27PM

Updated 08/19 2014 10:24PM

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) - Utah has had a soggy August with a saturated hill sliding down in North Salt Lake and numerous floods in the central and southern parts of the state. Yet the area is still in a prolonged drought, according to hydrologist Brian McInerney of the National Weather Service.

"We've had a lot of rain and it's been cool," McInerney told ABC4 News Tuesday. "Our senses tell us that our drought should be over but that's not the case by far."

McInerney says the summer showers don't really help the state's water supply. When it comes to reservoir levels, it's not the raindrops in August, it's the snowfall in January through March that really counts.

"Everything comes from spring snowmelt runoff," McInerney said. "If you have a good year, an average year or above, you fill the reservoirs. If you have the three low years like we've just had...then what we see is just residual water levels that get lower and lower every year and the water picture looks a little grim."

McInerney says by the end of the year, Utah's reservoirs will be around 40 percent full.

"What we want is in the fall to have a lot of rains to moisten up the soil," McInerney said. "Then a great year of snow collection and then a cold wet spring and bring the snow off all at once and make it very efficient and that's our best scenario."

There are some advantages to the wet summer, especially for farmers and golf courses. McInerney says they also lessen the draw on existing water supplies because people turn off their sprinklers.

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