It’s as close to a foregone conclusion that one can get — and one that shouldn’t come as any surprise after a dry winter — users of water from Ken’s Lake, provided by the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency, will see restrictions this year.
That was the message delivered at a meeting of the GWSSA board of directors on Thursday, Feb. 1.
“I don’t think it’s a question of if, but how much,” said GWSSA Manager Dana Van Horn, speaking to members of the board.
Van Horn said she would have data gathered by the board’s next meeting on Feb. 15 so that board members could decide when to begin restrictions.
To make those restrictions as small as possible, “Cross your fingers for snow,” she said.
As of last week, according to information provided by Van Horn at the meeting, year-to-date precipitation at snow measuring stations in southeastern Utah show the area to be at 40 percent of average. Last year at this time, precipitation was 133 percent of average.
Meanwhile, Ken’s Lake is right around 57 percent of storage capacity, at roughly the same level seen in 2015 at this time of year. The soil moisture picture is bleak as well, with an estimated soil saturation of less than 10 percent at the 9,500-foot level of the La Sal Mountains.
Information released from the National Resource Conservation Service in Salt Lake City left little room for optimism.
“Read it and weep,” wrote hydrologist Troy Brosten in an email disseminating the NRCS’s February Utah water supply outlook report.
“We didn’t improve much, if any, in the way of snowpack,” the report states. “Thanks to two storms in January, snowpack in Southern Utah has been pulled out of below abysmal up to just abysmal. So now instead of being the worst snowpack on record, most of the basins south of Provo fall within the worst five years on record.”
The southeastern Utah region has the worst precipitation percentage in the state, at 32 percent of normal for this point in the year.
In a statement that almost hardly needed be said, “Southern Utah … should prepare for a very poor runoff year,” stated the NRCS’s accompanying climate and water report for February.