Flagstaff snowfall and Arizona water supply
Jan. 23, 2023
Flagstaff has received record amounts of snowfall this week– at least three feet and counting — and storms have hammered California. Sarah Porter, director of Kyl Center for Water Policy, and Charlie Ester, manager of SRP Watershed Management, join Ted to discuss what this means for Arizona’s water supply.
“We rely on snowmelt for so much our run off, but these storms have just pilled up record amounts of snow,” said Ester. “We expect to get an abundant amount of water into the reservoirs, in addition to the amount we’ve already received.”
According to Ester, reservoirs are currently seventy seven percent full. For comparison, this number was sixty five percent on January 1. Ester says, the Verde system is forecasted to be completely filled if another storm rolls through.
Most of the Colorado River flows that feed Arizona originate in the Rocky Mountains, as Porter points out. Right now, these basins are up to two hundred percent more full than normal.
“We can hope that that snowpack will translate into flows of the Colorado River, but it would take years of great snowpack in the Rockies to actually correct the problems we’re seeing in the reservoirs, without other steps,” Porter said.
Some Arizonans may be curious if the recent storms in California have helped Arizona’s water supply. As Porter points out, rain fall in Southern California does not go toward filling Colorado River reservoirs.