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Farmers relieved Gunnison Reservoir recovered from 0% water level

Jun 23, 2023, 10:44 PM | Updated: 10:55 pm

SANPETE COUNTY, Utah — You would hardly recognize Gunnison Reservoir this summer if you saw what it looked like two years ago.

Back then drought had taken a toll and its water level was at 0%.

This year it’s a much different story as the water level is now 95%.

It is a busy time on farms throughout Utah.For Sunnyside Up Pastures in Sanpete County, this week has been all about cutting, baling, and stacking hay.

“Here we go,” Stan Jensen told his four-year-old son Nickolus.

Jensen, who runs Sunnyside Up Pastures, is just happy there is so much hay this year.It’s a lot different from what he was seeing just a couple of years ago.“No matter how hard we tried, no matter how hard we worked, we are completely dependent on water,” Jensen said.

KSL visited Jensen for a news story two years ago when the nearby Gunnison Reservoir dried to 0%.

It’s one of the water sources Jensen relies on for his farm.

Instead of water, you could see the sandy floor of the reservoir overgrown with vegetation.

Some estimates say Gunnison Reservoir sits at 98% of capacity after Utah's record-setting winter. (Jack Grimm/KSL TV) Farmer Stan Jensen is grateful that Gunnison Reservoir is so full this year. The water helped with his bumper hay harvest. (Jack Grimm/KSL TV) Farmer Stan Jensen is grateful that Gunnison Reservoir is so full this year. The water helped with his bumper hay harvest. (Jack Grimm/KSL TV)

“Oh, man. That was, it was rough,” he said. “It was humbling.”

This year, though, Gunnison Reservoir is almost full.

The Gunnison Irrigation Company says it is between 95% to 98% full.

For farmers in the area, it is almost unbelievable.“Yeah, it is so much fun to see. Just all that water,” said Jensen.Gunnison Reservoirs is one of several reservoirs statewide that are now basically full after the amazing winter Utah has had.“To fill these reservoirs this quickly, we did not anticipate that happening and we are very happy about that,” said Laura Haskell, who is a drought coordinator with Utah’s Division of Water Resources.

Utah is still in a drought, but Haskell feels this water year has given everyone room to breathe.

There is still some snow in the mountains, but Haskell says eventually reservoir levels will start to decrease.“We will get a little bit more water into the reservoirs in some areas, but we are starting to use a little bit more water as well,” she said.

For farmers who use the Gunnison, this year means more water for crops and animals, which ultimately benefits us all.“Agriculture is important. Agriculture is food,” said Jensen. “It is so nice to see a year where the water isn’t so much of an issue.”

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Farmers relieved Gunnison Reservoir recovered from 0% water level