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Reservoirs and river flows looking healthy around Utah despite a dry April

Water runs down the canyon as the snowpack melts in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, April 20, 2020. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – April was Salt Lake City’s driest month on record. But despite the lack of rain, most of the reservoirs in Utah are projected to be at or above normal levels. 

Gary Henrie, a civil engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said this year’s snowpack was normal on average across the state. If combined with last year’s record snow, Utah reservoirs should be pretty healthy. 

“We’re likely to fill just about everything. We’re within striking distance everywhere, and we’ve got enough snowpack to fill a lot of our medium-sized reservoirs throughout the state,” Henrie said.  

There are only a few which might not fill up. Steinaker Reservoir near Vernal was being repaired last year, so it did not capture the water from 2019’s record snow. Strawberry Reservoir in Wasatch County will most likely be lower than average due to a lower than average snowpack nearby. 

But as temperatures go up, so does the public’s concern about rivers running too fast. 

While Henrie believes parents need to make sure their children are not playing around fast-moving water, he also said river flows are average for this time of year because the temperature is working in our favor. 

“Especially as it warms up before jumping up into the 90s, the snow tends to come off where it kinda gets up to a pretty good flow coming into the rivers. But it doesn’t jump up to any extreme levels,” Henrie said. 

Even so, water is being released downstream to make sure rivers do not run too high, though a huge spike in temperature over the next week is unlikely.