Residents concerned about flooding, debris hazards in streams

Mar 21, 2023, 3:06 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 11:55 am

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah —Neighbors were expressing concerns about potential debris hazards in Little Cottonwood Creek Monday as Salt Lake County emergency managers urged people to report problems ahead of increased flows due to spring runoff.

David Lehmann said multiple piles of debris and brush in the creek behind his house were leading him to worry about when waters would start to rise.

“This is getting plugged up,” Lehmann said during an interview with KSL 5. “This stuff’s going to get caught up there and act like a dam.”

Lehmann also expressed worries about the creek narrowing down near his property and noted that the area had experienced flooding in the past.

He said the creek should have been maintained better in recent years.

“I want the county to get up here and clean up this creek,” Lehmann said. “It’s a mess.”

Salt Lake County Emergency Management director Clint Mecham surveyed the area Monday evening at the invitation of KSL and Lehmann and he acknowledged the debris piles were going to need to be addressed by crews in the weeks to come.

Little Cottonwood Creek

Residents are worried that multiple piles of debris and brush in Little Cottonwood Creek could cause flooding when waters start to rise. (KSL TV)

“These are the kinds of issues we’re concerned about,” Mecham said. “These kinds of tangles can lead us to have bigger issues, especially if they get swept further downstream and get caught in the strainers.”

He said engineers and flood control workers were already busy monitoring every creek and river in the county with an “extraordinary” snowpack in the mountains yet to melt.

“There’s the potential for dozens of these kinds of snags to be along the various creeks across the county,” Mecham said. “That’s why engineering and flood control are as aggressively as possible trying to get out and get these things cleared out.”

Mecham said the county was also working to stockpile sandbags. He said an event last weekend helped to produce 15,000 to 20,000 sandbags that the county now has on hand, while another 6,000 had already been deployed to yards.

He said residents alerting the county to potential hazards was critical in the weeks to come as everyone hoped for a gradual warmup.

Lehmann hoped the debris piles near his home would be addressed by work crews sooner rather than later.

“When (the water) comes down, I’m telling you—this right here is something to see!” Lehmann said.

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Residents concerned about flooding, debris hazards in streams