Driest winter ever recorded for Arizona’s mountain watersheds - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Driest winter ever recorded for Arizona’s mountain watersheds

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TUCSON - A Winter like no other for the state's watersheds.

Winter 2017-2018 was the driest on record for the Grand Canyon State, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Between January and March, the Salt and Verde reservoir systems recorded their lowest runoff averages. Record keeping for these reservoirs started back in 1913.

For the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, the runoff projection for 2018 is only 3.1 million acre-feet, which is less than half of the average.

Overall, total watershed streamflow this runoff season is forecast to be near the lowest on record, which stood at 106,000 acre-feet in 2002.

As a result, the state's scarce renewable water supplies are dwindling further. The Colorado River Basin's much needed runoff into the Colorado River System is being thwarted by extremely thin snowpack.

Compounding this problem is the ongoing drought. Nearly half of the state is in extreme drought, while 4% of Arizona has reached exceptional drought levels. Exceptional drought has not occurred in the state since September 2013, when only 2% of Arizona was covered with exceptional conditions.

For the drought to end completely in southern Arizona, over 6" rainfall would be needed in one month. East central Arizona, including Gila County, would need over 9" rain in one month to wipe out the drought.

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