St. George experiencing minor flooding; past mitigation work paying off

Mar 17, 2023, 10:01 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 4:18 pm

ST. GEORGE, Utah — It’s that time of the year when lots of people head to St. George from Salt Lake City to get out of the cold and play some golf.

“Oh yeah,” said Marty Malheiro. “It is nice to be here.”

Malheiro lives in Salt Lake City and says the golf trip has become a tradition for her and her friends.

“It’s not snowing,” Barbara Couch said with a laugh.

It sure felt nice for them to leave winter behind, but this year, not even St. George was far enough away from challenging weather.

“We couldn’t play any golf because of all the rain,” said Ray Malheiro. “We got a little rained out when we first got down here.”

It was more than a little. St. George has been getting so much rain and so much water from the snow runoff from the Pine Valley Mountains, the Santa Clara River started flooding in some areas. It was enough to do some damage at Southgate Golf Course.

“We have decided to close the front nine while we make repairs specifically to cart paths and bridge embankments. We wanted to make sure those were safe for the public,” said Marc Mortensen, assistant city manager of St. George.

Mortensen said some hiking trails near the river also had to be closed.

There was also some minor damage at Sunbrook Golf Course because of all the water, though city crews have cleaned up much of the silt and debris the water left behind.

“We are waiting for the water to recede before we open Blackrock nine at Sunbrook,” Mortensen said.

There was massive flooding in St. George in 2005 and 2010, but this year, St. George city leaders say they are better prepared.

The city and Washington County have done a lot of flood mitigation work, such as digging deeper channels, wrapping them with heavy rock and rip-rap lining, as well as constructing more stormwater drains and water retention ponds in an effort to try and prevent uncontrolled flooding into homes.

So far, it’s made a difference this year.

“The flows were equivalent to those in 2005 and 2010, so pretty heavy flows coming down this year,” Mortensen said. “A lot of that work, it certainly paid off. And we anticipate it’ll continue to pay off in the years to come.”

Even with as much water as St. George has received this week, all the golf courses in the city were open. That’s good news for Malheiro and her friends. They were able to play the back nine hole at Southgate and have plans to play other courses this week and next week.

They said it’s just nice to get outside.

“It’s not bad. A little wet, but not bad,” Ray said.

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St. George experiencing minor flooding; past mitigation work paying off