Why is Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park pond mostly empty?

Nov 23, 2022, 12:47 PM | Updated: 12:51 pm
Liberty Park pond...
The Salt Lake City Department of Parks and Public Lands started draining the pond at Liberty Park on Nov. 1. (KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — No, it’s not your imagination, the pond at Liberty Park is empty for the first time in years.

The Salt Lake City Department of Parks and Public Lands recently drained most of the pond to make way for repairs to the gate that regulates the pond’s water levels, said Luke Allen, a spokesman for the department.

“We started draining it on Nov. 1, so it took about two to three weeks to reach the level that it is currently at,” he told KSL on Tuesday.

There are still some tiny pockets of water scattered throughout the pond but the space is mostly empty, which will continue to be the case for the next few weeks. The project is expected to continue through the end of December. Once complete, water from Red Butte Creek will slowly begin to refill the pond. Allen estimates that it will take a few weeks to refill, but it is expected to be back to normal by early 2023.

Department officials note that it’s the first time the pond has been drained in at least five years. The body of water typically isn’t touched, unlike the pond at Sugar House Park which is drained every winter.

The project isn’t expected to impact wildlife too much. The Liberty Park pond attracts scores of ducks, geese and other birds, including the occasional pelican when it’s full, especially in the spring and summer months.

The draining will continue for the next few weeks. Eventually, water from Red Butte Creek will slowly begin to refill the pond. (KSL TV) The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said birds that normally gather at Liberty Lake pond will likely venture out to other parks and water sources while the pond is empty. (KSL TV)

With winter coming and the pond mostly empty now, only about a dozen California gulls remained at the pond Tuesday afternoon.

The department consulted the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources before draining the pond this month, Allen said. He added that the birds will likely venture out to other parks and water sources while the pond is empty if there isn’t enough water from the pockets of water still at the pond. Carp, which are viewed as an invasive species, are the only known fish species to be in the pond.

The pond gate repair project isn’t the only construction happening at Liberty Park. Department officials posted on social media last week that the left turn entrance to the park at 900 South will be closed for “the next few weeks” because of ongoing construction for the city’s growing 9-Line Trail.

The city’s master plan notes that the ultimate goal of the trail is to provide a system that connects its east and west sides.

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Why is Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park pond mostly empty?