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Above-normal snowfall helps Bozeman water supply

Posted at 6:45 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 11:08:20-04

BOZEMAN — An above-normal snowfall means more water for the Bozeman water supply. But for a city seeing rapid growth, that water supply could be in trouble if we face a below-normal snowfall.

Snow in Bozeman isn’t anything uncommon. In fact, it’s one of the most common resources we use.

“If you turn your water on in Bozeman, it’s tied to snowmelt. If you flush your toilet, it’s related to snowmelt. If you water your garden, it’s related to snowmelt,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, the water supply specialist for Montana.

The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has tools called snow pillows which measure the amount of snowfall at any given time.

NRCS says this past February produced more snow than the average which is good for the city’s water supply.

“We’re certainly not in a position right now where we need to be concerned with it," Zukiewicz said.

But things could change.

“For now, I think we have adequate water supply, but with our population growing, that’s a question for the future. One of the concerns in this area, is as we see population growth are we going to exceed our capacity for water, as which point when we get into those years into the future, we might not have enough water if we have a below normal snowpack,” he said.

And a below-normal snowpack is not something we want to see.

“Below normal snowpacks are never good because it leaves our reservoirs depleted,” Zukiewicz explained.

Which in turn affects us all.

"So basically, everything you do on a daily basis directly relates back to snow," he said.

But this water supply specialist says city officials are doing their part.

“The City of Bozeman does do some pretty active drought planning to see what they can do to mitigate some of this,” Zukiewicz said.

But it’s time for everyone to do their part.

“I think it’s just in general good to be a good steward. So, the less you can use the better,” he said.

Zukiewicz says the area has one of the most consistent snowfall patterns in the state, which will help Bozeman's water supply stay consistent.