A dry water year turns wet with damp end of year
Oct 09, 2013 | 2125 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A chocolate waterfall alongside Looking Glass Rock road near Hatch Rock.  Torrential rainfall in August and September kept road crews busy.  Jack Randolph photo
A chocolate waterfall alongside Looking Glass Rock road near Hatch Rock. Torrential rainfall in August and September kept road crews busy. Jack Randolph photo
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A remarkably wet final three months of the water year made a dramatic change in San Juan County.

In fact, the community of Monticello, which fought through one of the driest years on record for nine months, finished the water year with higher than average precipitation.

Before the monsoon season arrived in mid-July, San Juan County was suffering. Reservoirs were at low levels and ground water was almost non-existent.

Expressing grave concern over low water resources, the City of Monticello secured an emergency grant of more than $1 million from the Utah Community Impact Board. Two wells deep under the city are being drilled with the hope of finding a reliable source of clean water.

Monticello City officials outlined a goal to cut water use by 25 percent and the community was looking dry from the effort.

The monsoon rains arrived on July 10, and within a matter of weeks, flooding became as big of a concern as the drought had been earlier.

Week after week of heavy rains restored the ground water and brought a healthy green look to areas that had been barren.

The extended rain saturated the ground and resulted in flooding in many areas. San Juan County road crews were busy restoring roads that had been washed out.

Despite the good fortunes brought about by the rains, water storage in area reservoirs remains at critically low levels. The reservoirs remain at low levels and will need a heavy winter snowpack to refill.

Joe Ramey, of the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, CO, warns that the drought conditions are still of concern.

“Since 1950, there has not been a correlation of a wet fall to a wet winter,” said Ramey in the Cortez Journal. “This is similar to the wet fall in 2001, which resulted in a dry winter in your area.”

Lake Powell is 109 feet below its capacity, while Recapture Reservoir is several feet below the conservation pool, and Loyds Lake holds approximately 25 percent of its capacity.

Despite the fact that cutting water use by 25 percent is a daunting goal, the residents of Monticello responded. The rain cut much of the need to water lawns and gardens and by October, city water use had been cut by more than 25 percent.
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