Weber Basin official: Snowfall should fill reservoirs, boost Great Salt Lake

Feb 13, 2023, 6:30 AM | Updated: 3:57 pm

The Great Salt Lake, photographed from Antelope Island on April 23, 2022. (Tim Vandenack, Standard-...

The Great Salt Lake, photographed from Antelope Island on April 23, 2022. (Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner)

(Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner)

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education, and media organizations to help inform people about the history and the plight of the Great Salt Lake.

The head of one of the key water suppliers in and around Weber and Davis counties is offering a very upbeat water projection going forward thanks to the heavy snowfall so far this winter.

“We’re smiling over here. This is good news,” said Scott Paxman, general manager of the Layton-based Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

With snowpack way above 30-year averages all along the Wasatch Front thanks to the wet winter, Paxman predicts all the reservoirs within the Weber Basin district, including Pineview Reservoir, will reach capacity in the spring and summer as the precipitation melts and flows downhill. As of Wednesday, the snow-water equivalent in the Weber River basin was 150% of the 30-year average for 1991-2020, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service data.

“We think there’s a good chance they will all fill. All of our reservoirs are going to fill,” Paxman said.

This screengrab of a map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service website shows that the snow-water equivalent in the Weber River basin amounted to 150% of the 30-year average as of Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.

His rosy projection covers Pineview, Causey, Lost Creek, Smith and Morehouse, East Canyon and Echo reservoirs. Pineview, the closest reservoir to Ogden, sat at 43.3% capacity as of Thursday, according to Utah Department of Natural Resources data.

Moreover, Paxman says the extra snowfall could result in a bump of perhaps 3 feet in the level at the Great Salt Lake, which reached its record low of around 4,188.6 feet above sea level last November and measured 4,190.1 feet as of Wednesday, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. That would hardly replenish the lake to what experts regard as a healthy level. But if Paxman’s estimate pans out, the influx would boost the water level to around 4,193 feet compared to this week’s measurements, on par with measurements from around August 2020.

The low range of the optimal level for a healthy Great Salt Lake is 4,198 feet in elevation, according to a Utah Senate resolution proposal that set that level as the goal in efforts to replenish the drying body of water. The measure, Senate Concurrent Resolution 6, stalled in committee earlier this month.

His optimism notwithstanding, Paxman emphasizes that the snowfall so far this winter hardly resolves Utah’s water woes.

“It does not put us out of the drought,” he said, though the snowfall is “a great start.”

Indeed, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District implemented strict lawn watering rules last summer stemming from dry conditions and falling levels in Pineview and other reservoirs. Paxman maintains that the strict watering rules ought to be the norm — lawns don’t need more than two waterings a week, he says.

“We’re not going to let off the pressure of really pushing conservation and being efficient with the water we have,” he said.

The heavy snowfall raises the specter of flooding at lower elevations like western Weber County once the snowpack starts melting. As such, when spring comes, Paxman said Weber Basin officials will closely monitor reservoir levels. “We’ll be managing it the best we can,” he said.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Utah Drought

an aerial photo shows the great salt lake, water level outlook is looking good for the lake...

Adam Small

The Great Salt Lake has a chance to be healthy again for the first time in over a decade

The water level in the Great Salt Lake is 1.5 feet from the tail-end of its healthy range of 4,196 to 4,200 feet.

8 hours ago

Sprinkler goes off, wondering when to turn on sprinklers?...

Adam Small

Don’t turn on the sprinklers just yet, expert says

Wondering when to turn on sprinklers now that we've been having warmer weather? Follow these guidelines to keep your lawn alive while still conserving water.

2 days ago

Warm weather will all for some of the Utah snowpack to begin melting off this weekend....

Adam Small

Utah temperatures warming up, strong snowpack set to start melting

Temperatures in Utah are going to get much warmer over the next few days, allowing for the snowpack we've accumulated to start melting off.

6 days ago

A screenshot from the Utah Division of Natural Resources website shows information about Panguitch ...

Kira Hoffelmeyer and Michael Camit

Panguitch Lake dam has a growing crack, residents on notice to evacuate

Some people in Garfield County are on standby to evacuate this morning because of growing concerns about a crack in the Panguitch Lake Dam.

8 days ago


Curt Gresseth

Eubank gazes into snow globe to predict spring runoff in Utah

KSL Meteorologist Kevin Eubank talks about the abundant snowpack and what to expect from the spring runoff in Utah.

12 days ago

Patricia Council's North Las Vegas yard after her grass was replaced with artificial turf, on Frida...

Heather Peterson

Is there a war brewing over artificial grass in Salt Lake City?

Some people in Salt Lake City are being asked to pull out their artificial grass, and they are not happy about it.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Weber Basin official: Snowfall should fill reservoirs, boost Great Salt Lake