Five High Hazard Dams In Utah Listed In Poor Condition

Nov 12, 2019, 8:17 PM | Updated: 8:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A multimillion-dollar rehabilitation project is underway on Mountain Dell Dam near the mouth of Parley’s Canyon to help the structure meet current safety standards.

The dam was one of five high hazard dams in Utah recently listed in poor condition.

Salt Lake City Public Utilities Deputy Director Jesse Stewart said since this dam is more than a hundred years old, it needs some work.

“This dam was built in 1917,” he said. “We really want to keep this dam viable for another hundred years.”

That’s why construction workers have spent the past couple of years installing a flexible type of plastic cover on the water-side of the dam.

It’s to keep water from getting into the cracks of the concrete and leaking to the other side.

Since people live below the dam, it’s on the state’s list of more than 200 high hazard dams.

The high hazard designation means if it failed, people could die.

“There’s a high hazard potential and there are a lot of dams that have that that are perfectly safe, including Mountain Dell Dam,” Stewart said.

However, Mountain Dell Dam, which holds drinking water for Salt Lake City, was also on the list of dams in poor condition.

“We had an assessment done in 2014,” Stewart said. “We’ve been making some of the recommendations which includes putting on the liner we’re putting on right now.”

Mountain Dell wasn’t the only dam on the list of high hazard dams in poor condition in Utah.

According to Dave Marble, an assistant engineer with Utah’s Dam Safety Program, there are four others on the list — Red Pine Dam near Snowbird, Jones Dam just east of Heber, Palisades Lake Dam in central Utah and Alton Reservoir in southern Utah.

“That also does not necessarily mean that a failure is imminent,” Marble said. “They’re showing their age and they need a little bit of shoring up. That’s our job is to work with the dam owners to make sure they’re taking care of their dams. They’re responsible for their own dams.”

Most of the dams in Utah are owned by private companies, counties or cities.

“We work with them to make sure they are doing those things,” Marble said.

Marble also said all five high hazard dams in poor condition are in the process of being repaired to meet current safety standards.

“We’ve got a lot of dams that were built more than a hundred years ago in some cases that have been around for a long, long time. They have actually performed pretty well, but there’s some work that needs to be done,” Marble said.

Salt Lake City officials said they’re hoping to fix little issues before they become big problems — that’s why $3 million is being spent on rehabilitation work on the Mountain Dell Dam.

“And we’ll have it for another hundred years,” Stewart said.

The Mountain Dell Dam project is expected to be finished in 2020.

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Five High Hazard Dams In Utah Listed In Poor Condition