The snowmelt runoff forecast for Boysen Reservoir and Wind River was lower than average, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
The forecast is a prediction of runoff the reservoir will receive when the snow melts this spring. Bureau of Reclamation representatives said the forecast for April through July, which was predicted at the beginning of February, was 89% of a 30-year average.
"This is Boysen dam, and it's a multi-purpose facility,” said Mark Skoric, Bureau of Reclamation Big Horn Basin Facility Manager. “It provides for irrigation, recreation, power generation, and flood control.”
He said water is released if there is too much.
“We will release through the spill way gates of the dam or through the hollow jets, which are down in the power plant," said Skoric.
Skoric says the facility will not work well if the water is too low.
"About 15 years ago it was a drought situation and we actually shut down the power plant for a couple of weeks," said Skoric.
Mahonri Williams, the Bureau of Reclamation Water and Lands Division Chief, said the snow pack affects the amount of water in the reservoir. Scientists look at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which measures the accumulation of snow and precipitation at remote sites, 8,000 feet higher in the Wind River basin peaks, then measures the amount of water in the snow.
"We're looking at an about average forecast, snow pack, for the remainder of the year," said Jim Fahey, a National Weather Service Hydrologist.
Fahey thinks the snowmelt runoff will also be about average, because the National Weather Service and the Bureau of Reclamation use different averages to compute forecasts. Williams said the forecast is low because in recent years the snowmelt was well below average, and it takes time to recover. He said the forecast was also based on snow conditions at the beginning of February and will be updated at the end of March.