OGDEN -- A monthly state climate report shows Top of Utah is facing high demands on its water reserves that will leave reservoirs only half full at the end of September, which marks the end of the water year.
The report issued Wednesday by the National Resource Conservation Service shows that increased rainfall in the southern part of the state is raising soil moisture levels in some areas, which could mean lower fire danger there because plants will be less dry.
The report reveals that August may not be as bad a fire danger month in the southern part of the state as people have feared.
Any precipitation also helps farmers, who have been drawing on reservoirs heavily to keep their crops alive. With another six weeks of irrigation season left, the report says, statewide reservoir storage will be about 55 percent full to carry over to next year.
Precipitation in Southern Utah doesn't help the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, however. The district's drainage area has had the worst rainfall in the state this year.
The report reveals precipitation in July was below average at 81 percent, which brings the water year accumulation to 69 percent of average. Reservoir storage in the Weber Basin Water Conservancy area is at 64 percent of capacity, compared to 95 percent last year at this time.
District Executive Director Tage Flint said the reservoir levels are so low because irrigators are making huge demands on the district's water.
"We are using it at breakneck pace right now," he said Thursday. "Our numbers are not in for July, but I can tell you we are running about 35 percent over average on our demands and that is due to the climate we are experiencing right now."
He said the district hopes to end the water year with the reservoirs at least 50 percent full, or "maybe even a little less." That will mean the system, which can best be thought of as a bank savings account for Top of Utah's water, will have one year's worth of water left. The district could survive a second winter with poor snowfall and still provide water to irrigators and water users next summer, but it would leave reservoirs dangerously low.
Despite that, Flint said that the district hasn't put any water use restrictions into place, "except for a request to the public to be responsible for their outdoor water use. That would really help us on this one."
This year's rain and reservoir situation is a stark contrast to the winter of 2010-2011, which saw record snows and massive spring runoff that caused extensive flooding.
That snowfall also filled the reservoirs so well that they stayed full despite this past winter being one of near-record poor snowfall. The one year effectively canceled out the other.
"I tell people that's what happens in Utah," Flint said. "The last two years, we've been average."