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No need to worry yet about water picture

The News-Examiner of Montpelier, Idaho

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There's still plenty of time for more snowpack to develop, Bear River and Bear Lake area water users were told last week.

And on top of that, there is still lots of water in area reservoirs and flowing along rivers and streams, those attending a long-range forecast session by the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. The meeting was arranged by the Utah Water Users Association.

"All indicators that we're hearing is that it's almost a complete opposite, this year from last year," said Chris Hogue, manager of power and irrigation for the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

"For the Bear, Provo and Weber River Basins, it's less than 50 percent of the snow pack compared to last year," he said.

"It was very interesting to see all of their different models," said Claudia Cottle of Bear Lake Watch, speaking of the weather forecasting and precipitation models shown at the meeting.

"We're sitting pretty healthy," she said, in terms of the water levels still showing up in the Northern Utah/Southeastern Idaho reservoirs.

("As far as the Bear River is concerned, Paci-fiCorp made the right decision, to go into storage mode," Cottle said. (See accompanying article for more details.

"They can change it (to water release) if they need to," she said. "All the moisture is going into the lake right now."

"The expectation is that we won't be totally dry all winter," Hogue said, even as weather forecasters were calling for the potential of several small to moderate snow storms hitting the area this week.

Looking at the moisture patterns historically, he said a lot of winters are dry during the first half, and then "fairly wet Februarys and Marches developed. That brought it back to a fairly normal level.

"This December was the driest on record at the Salt Lake International Airport," Hogue said. "We had a good year last year so there is a good holdover in the reservoirs.

"The base flows in the rivers are in a downward trend but still higher than normal. We should still be reaping some of that impact by spring, and that will be good," Hogue said. "But just looking longterm I don't think there will be major concerns for this year. We're in a pretty good position. There will be bigger concern if there is a second dry year. It will be much less favorable."

Original Publication Date: January 18, 2012

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