Lack of snow worries Southern Utah city leaders
Mar 8, 2018, 4:17 PM | Updated: 11:15 pm
LAVERKIN – For many people, the views of Southern Utah are enough to last a lifetime.
“It’s why we come down here. We don’t like the snow anyway,” said Rick Gailey with a laugh.
Gailey, who lives in Hurricane, spent the day in shorts and a tank top. He loves the warmer weather, but the lack of snow this year, even has him worried.
“Water is going to be an issue if we don’t get a snowpack like up north,” he said, this time without a laugh.
Water is always a concern in Southern Utah. This year, however, the lack of a decent snow pack or rain storms means it’s more of a concern than normal.
“I don’t remember seeing it this dry this time of year,” said LaVerkin mayor Richard Hirschi. “If we don’t get any more snow, which it doesn’t look like we’re going to get much more, we could have to look at restrictions for irrigation water.”
LaVerkin is a growing desert city in Washington County. Mayor Hirschi was excited when a snow storm was coming his way last week, but it didn’t really produce anything by the time it arrived.
“It wasn’t even a half inch,” he said. “We only got a little bit and it only lasted a half hour and then it melted off. We’re going to need more.”
How bad is it in Southern Utah? Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, released a water supply forecast on Wednesday. One of the glaring numbers was a 30-percent forecast for the amount of water expected to come out of the mountains nears LaVerkin from April 1, though the end of July.
“We’re kind of getting close to the lowest we’ve ever seen and that was 2002,” said McInerney when referencing snowpack and river runoff totals. “February was not a good month for us as far as water supply, and Southern Utah is doing much worse.”
Fortunately, last year was a good snowpack and water year for the area which could help balance the lack of water this year. “If it’s one year, we’ll be all right, but multiple years of this, we’re going to be in a bad place,” said Derek Imlay, public works director for LaVerkin. “It’s been a very bad year as far as water accumulation. Probably one of the worst years I have ever seen and I have lived here most of my life.”