UTAH FLOOD WATCH

When will Deer Creek, Jordanelle reservoirs reach capacity this spring?

May 10, 2023, 8:57 AM

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(Chopper 5)

(Chopper 5)

PROVO CANYON, Utah — It’s a tricky spring for managing Utah’s reservoir levels in order to prevent flooding while also storing water for later.

“We had no idea in October we’d have this kind of a winter,” said Gene Shawcroft, general manager of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.

Shawcroft described it as a delicate balancing act of making sure reservoirs have enough room for the runoff from record-breaking snow, but also end up full of water that can be used during the hot days of summer and during future years.

“What makes it tricky this year is the huge amount of snow that we have,” he said. “The other thing is we don’t have any idea what the temperatures are going to be more than about five to six days out.”

When it comes to Deer Creek and Jordanelle reservoirs, Shawcroft said both reservoirs are now in the process of filling. The goal is to have Deer Creek reach about 95% of capacity first and then catch the rest of the runoff in Jordanelle.

“The fuller we can keep Jordanelle, the more insurance policy we have that we can make our deliveries for the next three to five years,” Shawcroft said.

If done correctly, both reservoirs will reach capacity sometime in June just as the snowmelt comes to an end, Shawcroft explained. That scenario makes it so there would be no need to open the spillways on the dams.

He said managing runoff takes day-to-day management and adjustments to the reservoirs. If they are filled too early, then water will need to be released. But if it gets too late in the season, there might not be enough snowmelt remaining to fill them.

In April, the water district started diverting water coming out of Deer Creek Reservoir to the Great Salt Lake.

The 50 million gallons of water being released every day travels from Provo Canyon to Point of the Mountain, where it can flow to the Jordan River and eventually to the Great Salt Lake.

The water release has two goals: prevent flooding in the Provo River and benefit the Great Salt Lake.

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When will Deer Creek, Jordanelle reservoirs reach capacity this spring?