Another dry year ahead, but reservoirs looking OK

Last week’s warm weather prompted some snowmelt runoff from the Wind River Mountains, but state water watchers aren’t concerned about flooding this year in Fremont County.

Instead, they have drought on the brain.

The region has experienced consecutive years of drier weather, Natural Resources Conservation Service hydrologist Jim Fahey pointed out.

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As a result, the local soil-moisture content is low, so spring snowmelt ends up sinking into the ground instead of flowing into area waterways.  

It doesn’t help that this spring – especially after mid-April – is forecast to be warmer and drier than normal.

“That’s concerning,” Fahey said. “There may be problems by the later part of the summer (when) the west and northwest part of the state (will be) really dry.”

Fortunately, he said, the reservoirs in the Wind River Basin are “about where they should be for this time of year.”

This week, Bull Lake Reservoir was almost 58 percent full, and Pilot Butte Reservoir was almost 70 percent full.

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“The reservoir storage is not that bad,” Fahey said. “I think they’re going to have enough to fill Bull Lake and be able to distribute the water like they usually do.”

Boysen Reservoir is about 84 percent full, but that water serves users downstream in the Bighorn Basin and Montana, Fahey noted.

Fahey’s latest snowpack update is available online.

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