Cities across Utah monitoring spring runoff as warmer temperatures arrive

Apr 11, 2023, 7:02 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 11:58 am

From Lehi to St. George, water officials and residents are watching how the warmer temperatures are impacting spring runoff and the risk of flooding.

“We’re just concerned there’s going to be a flood in our backyard,” said Joanne Wong, of Lehi.

For the second day in a row, Wong worked to fill dozens of sandbags to protect her property.

“Trying to minimize any damages that it might cause from the flooding,” she said.

Joanne Wong fills up sandbags in Lehi. (KSL TV)

After a winter of record-breaking snow, cities across Utah started preparing early.

“We’re providing sand,” said Greg Allred, Lehi’s water manager. “We’re providing sandbags and we hope for the best.”

Allred said he’s relieved that the bursts of warmer weather are followed by cooler temperatures, which is moderating the runoff.

“We obviously saw some higher flows yesterday, and we’ll some today and possibly tomorrow,” he said of Dry Creek. “Then, we anticipate those flows to go down.”

He called the weather pattern the perfect scenario for slowly melting all the snow in the mountains.

“I think the worst-case scenario is we see some 90-degree days and some back-to-back 90 degree temperatures before Memorial Day,” Allred said.

Provo City is asking the public to stay away from the Provo River as upriver reservoirs are expected to release more water this week, according to Dave Decker, Provo’s public works director.

At the mouth of American Fork Canyon, the president of the American Fork Irrigation Company said he is still waiting for the high water flows to arrive.

“We have more low-level snow — meaning below 6,500 feet — than we did in 1983,” said Ernie John. “That’s why I like the hot and cold. That’s the best way to bring the snowpack down.”

The mouth of American Fork Canyon. (KSL TV)

John said the snowpack in the watershed serving his irrigation company, which provides pressurized irrigation water to several cities in Utah County, is more than 200% of normal.

He reminded that residents still need to hold off on watering and keep conserving this summer.

“We’ve done a great job in conserving,” John said. “Our lawns are still green. Stay at that level. Don’t think because we’ve got all this water that you can water every day.”

In southern Utah, St. George officials are also monitoring the spring runoff.

“We love it that it’s coming down into our lakes,” said Cameron Cutler, the city’s director of public works.

Even with temperatures near 90 degrees on Tuesday, Cutler said the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers are handling the higher levels just fine.

“We’re doing good and we’re watching it,” he said of the snowmelt. “The wildcard is the rain. If we were to get rain, I would really start to get concerned a lot more.”

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Cities across Utah monitoring spring runoff as warmer temperatures arrive