Soil Storage of Snow Water: Linking Sediment Source Control to Water Supply

TitleSoil Storage of Snow Water: Linking Sediment Source Control to Water Supply
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2006
AuthorsHogan, M., and Grismer M.
Conference Name74th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 74th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2006
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationLas Cruces, NM
KeywordsWater supply, ski resorts, water shortages, climate change, soils restoration, bark chips

Water supply and quality in the arid west is becoming an increasingly problematic issue. This is nowhere more important than in mountain resort areas where an increased pressure on surrounding real estate can have significant impacts on the water supply, often through building and other construction activities. Further, global climate change is expected to have significant effects on both the amount and type of precipitation received in mountainous areas as well as the storage period of frozen water. These elements of western water supply suggest distressing trends in timing, quality and amounts of downstream delivery of water resources. Ski resorts offer the potential for both a focused study of changing watershed dynamics as well as the opportunity to develop a host of mitigation measures. Some of these measures offer the potential to both store additional water and to attenuate the runoff hydrograph. This paper describes two related processes and outcomes. The first is a soils restoration process that has been implemented and shown to increase water infiltration into the soil, in some cases by over an order of magnitude. The second is a proposed experimental project that uses wood chips as a snow surface cover to reduce snowmelt rate, thus extending and attenuating the runoff hydrograph. Further, when snow finally melts, the wood chips provide a highly effective soil surface mulch, thus reducing erosion potential. (Abstract only)