No good news for Bear Lake water levels in 2013

The moon rises over Bear Lake as a boat rocks in the water just off the beach in Fish Haven, Idaho. Water levels are expected to drop once again in 2013. 

<strong>GARDEN CITY—</strong> The grasp of winter seems to have finally released its hold on Cache Valley, and is starting to do so in neighboring Rich County. Despite a much snowier winter in the valley than last year, that hasn’t translated into great snowpack levels.

According to a report released by the Bear Lake Watch, the snowpack of the Bear River Basin sits at 71 percent of normal, with the low level snow being completely gone. The mid-level snow is nearly entirely gone as well.

What this means, is that the water level is expected to continue to drop in 2013. The low level for Bear Lake in 2012, was 5915.5 feet and since that time the lake level has only risen by a foot. The level is only expected to increase another seven inches, topping off the 2013 high water mark somewhere in the neighborhood of 5917.3 feet.

“Where we will be by the end of the summer depends on the weather and the good practices of crop producers. It is one of the unusual years, when it’s a very bad water year, but because the lake is still relatively high, the downstream irrigators will be permitted a full allocation of 245,000 af. (as per the Bear Lake Settlement Agreement ),” the report states. “It is also a year that they may actually need to use most of it. Most years there is enough rain and other water in the lower river system, that they do not use their full allocation. The outlook doesn’t look for that. Only properly timed rain events can help.”

The lake is expected to hit its peak in early May, and then drop four feet or more by the end of the 2013 season. On the bright side, there should be no shortage of Bear Lake beach this summer.

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