Grantsville Reservoir overflowed for about one week and Settlement Canyon Reservoir is set to overflow soon, according to irrigation officials.
“The reservoir is about four feet away from overflowing again,” said Jake McArthur, watermaster for Grantsville Irrigation Company. “When it does overflow, I can turn it out and it goes out through a ditch onto the Tooele Army Depot into a pond. Nothing can go past the flood-control ditch, so the town is protected.”
McArthur said the “water is flowing like crazy” with 11,000 gallons-per-minute from canyons feeding into the reservoir.
“There’s five inches of water equivalent in the snow at Mining Fork SnoTel site, and still 14 inches of snow up there,” he said.
He added, “Farmers received a use-or-lose turn up until June 15, but they stopped watering to put up the first crop of hay. They drained the reservoir some, but it’s rising quickly again.”
Meters will not be read until June 15 so water used up until then will not count against shareholders’ allotments, McArthur said.
Settlement Canyon Reservoir rose nine inches in two days this week, according Settlement Canyon Irrigation President Gary Bevan.
“Yes, it’s just about ready to spill,” he said. “It should spill over and go down the ditch and into the runoff pipe. The reservoir hasn’t spilled over in five or six years.”
Bevan said water would flow through a pipe to the west side of the city, into a ditch and then into another pipe to be released west into a ditch that flows alongside state Route 112 toward Grantsville.
“If something happens with the ditch and pipeline, another alternative would be to run the water down 700 South,” he said.
Bevan said there will be no restrictions on water use for irrigation shareholders this year.
“During drought years we’ve had restrictions, but not this year,” he said.
Tooele City received some snow on Wednesday, with showers expected through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures earlier in the week did not get above 63 in Tooele. Mild temperatures slightly slow down spring runoff, but the forecast shows temperatures in the 70s next week with an anticipated high near 80 by next Wednesday, according to the weather service.
The best temperatures for keeping things under control would be warm, cool, warm, cool,” said Randy Julander, supervisor for Utah Snow Survey. “Another couple of weeks and the peak flows will be over.”
According to Julander, Utah experienced major snow amounts in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1997, 2011 and 2017.
Tooele City is currently 30 percent above normal for precipitation through the first seven months of the water year that started Oct. 1, according to Ned Bevan, Tooele weather observer for the National Weather Service. The area receives most of its precipitation in March, April and May. Currently, May precipitation is only one-third of normal, Bevan said.
“This morning at 9 we have .52 inches of precipitation and normal is 1.91 inches,” he said.
Emergency management officials have been working on flood mitigation since March, according to Bucky Whitehouse, director of Tooele County Emergency Management.
“We discussed hydrology back in March with officials from both Settlement Canyon and Grantsville reservoirs — also with Tooele County Roads and Tooele City Public Works,” Whitehouse said.
He said people from one of the LDS wards filled between 300 and 500 sandbags and placed them on a stretch of Van Dyke Way to protect a flood channel in the area of last summer’s massive wildfire in Tooele.
“The water has been coming down so fast in Settlement Canyon that it is overflowing the pipe that goes into the reservoir, and water is running down the old stream bed,” Whitehouse added. “We caution people to stay out of the stream.”