University of Utah
Most of Utah's water enters the hydrological system as snow. As the snow melts in the spring, it flows into streams, reservoirs, and groundwater where it becomes available for human use. Here is an example of a tributary of the Strawberry Reservoir. Perennial streams flow into the reservoir, tunnels through mountains transfer this Colorado Basin water into the Utah Lake watershed, and the water distribution system supplies this water to your tap.
While this has certainly been a wet winter with lots of storm systems moving through the state, warmer temperatures are often synonymous with El Nino conditions. Many times this season, the snow level is around 8000ft or similar to the base of many Utah ski resorts. Higher elevations are receiving more snow, but rain is falling in much of our watersheds. This also includes rain on snow events, which can melt our snow-pack.
Utah skiers rejoice as El Nino conditions continue to bring fresh snow to Utah mountains. While this snow provides recreation for many, a deep snow pack provides water for residents, industry, agriculture, and natural systems. Will we see the Great Salt Lake environmental health improve after this wet winter?
Utah Water Center
Part of University of Utah's Civil and Environmental Engineering Program