Winter Storms Dramatically Increase Flagstaff’s Water Supply

Mar 5, 2015

After the recent snowstorms, water levels have nearly doubled in Lake Mary, one of Flagstaff’s primary water sources. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the reservoir is now nearly 60 percent full.

Lake Mary in warmer months. The reservoir is one of Flagstaff's main water sources and is now more than half full after the recent winter storms.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

According to the City of Flagstaff’s Utilities Division, the storms added more than a billion-and-a-half gallons of water to the city’s supplies. That’s more than half of all the water the city delivers to its customers in a year.

Lake Mary is one of Flagstaff’s most economical and renewable water supplies, along with springs from the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks. During a period of drought in the 1950s, the city drilled wells to access several regional aquifers, but surface water from the lake is still one of Flagstaff’s main water sources.

According to the National Weather Service, last month was the warmest February on record for Flagstaff, Winslow and Prescott with nearly two weeks of daytime highs reaching into the 60s. It was also dry, with snowfall for that month less than half of the February average. So far this season, Flagstaff has received about three-quarters of its normal snowfall.

Until the recent storms, there had been no significant snow in the area since New Year’s Eve. However, winter rainstorms caused overall moisture to be at or above average.