April 2024 Newsletter


By: Mike Davis

I am writing this brief article for our newsletter on a snowy day in Heber City. I awoke to more snow on the ground and it is continuing to snow off and on this morning. Talk about a winter that keeps on giving! I truly thought that once we came home from the Water Conference, working on spring preparations for this year would truly begin. I am still waiting. It all is a blessing though. For those managing water and irrigation systems, we now get to plan the coming season with over average snowpack. This may include some flooding. I hope not serious. Still, this is putting most areas of the State in a great position for the coming water season. I still want to remind all of us that conservation is needed. The great efforts employed last year contributed to large water savings which also helped the reservoir levels to remain high. All should be thanked for the efforts last year. I often say that as good as we were before, we can always do better, no matter how little. One of the really good things that I have thought about as I have contemplated water conversation, is that we are teaching the future generations of that importance. It starts with all of us. It will be a great water year.

The Association is grateful for all those that worked on the Water Conference. There is so much work that goes on prior to the conference and much more during the conference. Also, all those that presented need to be thanked. I can’t imagine anywhere else where we could attend a conference and receive so much valuable imformation to help us as we use and manage water. I also appreciate so much the ability to renew friendships with individuals I haven’t seen for a long time. Truly, we are a water “community”. Now, let’s get things flowing and growing! It should be a great summer and fall this year.


By: Jordan Clayton

As of April 1st, Utah’s statewide SWE percent of normal is at 132% of median. The last time Utah had two consecutive winters with snow totals this far above normal was 2005 and 2006. And like last winter, the good news has been widespread and not limited to certain areas of the state. All of Utah’s major basins will peak at above-normal snowpack levels for the second year in a row. Utah received 156% of normal precipitation for the month of March, bringing the water-year-to-date value to 117% of normal, up an additional 6% from the end of February. Statewide soil moisture is at 63% of saturation, which is 101% of normal for this time of year. Utah’s streamflow forecasts for April to July snowmelt runoff volume range from 96% to 280% of median (63% to 158% of average). Utah’s current statewide reservoir storage is at 78% of capacity. We expect almost all of Utah’s reservoirs to fill this year, with the exception of a few of our largest water bodies. Surface Water Supply Indices (SWSI) for Utah basins combine our current reservoir levels with the additional volume of water anticipated for each watershed based on these April 1 streamflow forecasts. While the SWSI for the Lower Sevier basin has increased from last month, it is still concerningly low. Elsewhere in the state, Utah’s major watersheds are predicted to have somewhat above-normal surface water availability this summer (60th to 75th percentile range), with a few areas (Provo, Weber, Price, and Joes Valley drainages) predicted to have a well above-normal water supply.

Cheers, Jordan

Water & The Law

By: Nathan S. Bracken and Jeffrey R. Gittens – HOUSE BILL 280

About 40 water-related bills were considered during the 2024 session of the Utah Legislature. One of the key water-related bills that passed was House Bill 280, which changes how the State of Utah funds water infrastructure projects.

Under the bill, “relevant agencies” with water-related missions, including the Divisions of Water Resources, Drinking Water, and Water Quality, will develop annual water infrastructure plans beginning on June 30, 2025, that will describe needed water projects that fall within their jurisdiction. Once adopted, these relevant agencies will submit their plans to Utah’s Water Development Coordinating Council, who will then develop a “unified water infrastructure plan” that will identify water projects needed to “maintain the reliable supply of safe and clean water.” The Council will adopt the first unified plan by March 1, 2026, which it will update at least every four years. Once created, the Division of Water Resources will be required to reference the unified plan in the State water plan.

The Council will also work in consultation with the relevant agencies to develop a written process for ranking and prioritizing water infrastructure projects that are or will be funded with state money beginning in fiscal year 2027. This process will also include several criteria requiring consideration of hardships, the public interest (including conservation and the protection of public health and safety), the use of state funding to match federal funding, and local entity consultation. H.B. 280 also requires the Council to seek and consider public input in developing the prioritization process.

The bill further requires the Utah Division of Water Resources to study and make several recommendations by October 31, 2024, regarding: (1) which funds or accounts used to finance water infrastructure projects should be tied to the planning and prioritization process; (2) whether any funds or accounts should be consolidated; and (3) whether changes to the membership of the Council are needed. In addition, by October 31, 2025, the Division will make recommendations about whether to impose a new fee to fund water infrastructure projects identified in the unified water infrastructure projects, including who will pay the fee, how the fee will be calculated and collected, where the generated revenue will be deposited, whether the fee should be a tax, how the revenue should be spent, the affordability for end users, and how to ensure revenue is distributed equitably statewide.

To help fund these efforts, the bill creates a new “Water Infrastructure Fund” to provide money to help pay for the Council’s water infrastructure prioritization activities and the studies that H.B. 280 requires, as well as provide loans and grants for projects prioritized in the unified water infrastructure plan. The fund will consist of appropriations from the Legislature, money received from the federal government, grants and donations from the public, and loan repayments.

Weather Outlook

By: Glen Merrill

Back to back above normal winters have been experienced for the first time since winters 2005-2006, with winter 2023 also being a record winter in regards to statewide averaged SWE. Holdover from winter 2023 has allowed reservoir systems across the state to retain well above normal levels. Favorable water supply outlooks are anticipated to fill most if not all of our reservoirs (excluding Lake Powell) at points during the spring 2024 runoff season. Said, given future weather conditions remaining in line with various years between 1991-2020 (official period of record), the probabilities of experiencing flood conditions on area creeks are forecast to be less than 10% for all forecast points monitored by the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center (CBRFC) and National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, Salt Lake City.

Favorable spring weather conditions thus far have led to an efficient melt off of low elevation snow across the state, and current/near future weather conditions are anticipated to continue that trend for the mid elevation snowpack remaining in place. Future weather conditions during May/June will dictate high elevation snowmelt, which currently remains as a winter snowpack for many areas. Anomalous weather conditions, such as a significant late season rain event during peak runoff, or prolonged period of near or record breaking temperatures, could exacerbate flood potential, but remains a low probability outcome at this time.


By: Carly Burton

Lake Powell Update

Being the water nerd that I am, I have to tell you about my excitement when talking about lake Powell. This is because it is my favorite place to go boating and fishing. So the lake experienced a remarkable year in 2023, rising about 68 feet to elevation 3584. This single year does not make up for the past 20 years of drought and the lake was still 116 feet below full when it peaked last year. During the fall and winter, releases were made to fulfill downstream obligations and the lake bottomed out last week at elevation 3558. Spring runoff has begun and the current inflow as of April 25 was 15,000 cfs, 5,000 cfs greater than the outflow. I have heard that runoff forecast predictions are between a 35 to 50 foot lake rise during the runoff period. I am a little bit reluctant that the lake will rise that much, primarily because this past winter’s snowpack was substantially less than last year, although according to Jordan Clayton with Snow Survey, the snowpack is still about 130% of average. Not too shabby in my opinion. We will keep you posted on the lake levels but if you have questions or concerns you can Google “Lake Powell Water Database” to get all the lake information first hand.

2024 Utah Water Users Workshop Update

We had another fantastic Workshop this year with over 900 in attendance. We were able to present 66 topics which gave those in attendance a great variety of interesting topics to attend. As our president Mike Davis stated, it takes the dedicated efforts of many people to be able to pull this off. So I would like to extend a special thanks to the Workshop Planning Committee with coming up with so many important and interesting topics. I must also thank the speakers for taking the time and effort to present their topics in an interesting and informative way. The Workshop co-sponsors and exhibitors helped financially with their generous contributions that allow us to keep the registration fee as low as possible. Special thanks to Nephi Brimhall with Epic Engineering for planning the golf tournament and to Nathan Lunstad and Bowen Collins & Associates for planning the bike ride event. I must also thank Janeen Shawcroft for organizing the guest program. I must also thank USU Event Services for providing registration support for the event and thanks to the Dixie Center for hosting our conference.

Next year the Workshop will be held on March 17-19, 2025. Wait, did I say 2025? That means we will be half over this decade. How does time fly by so fast? I guess that means we are still having fun. Take care and we look forward to seeing you next year.

2024 Utah Water Summit Conference

Mark your calendars for our fall conference which will be held on October 15, 2024 at the Davis Convention Center. More details to follow.