Utah County, Sandy issue disaster declarations for flood response

May 31, 2023, 1:52 PM | Updated: Jun 6, 2023, 11:20 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Government leaders in Utah County and Sandy have issued emergency declarations to help mitigate and respond to potential flooding from the spring runoff.

Utah County Commission Chairwoman Amelia Powers Gardner signed a declaration for the county on Tuesday, and Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski signed an emergency order Wednesday morning.

Flooding has already caused more than $10 million in damage in Utah County, according to a press release from the county.

“Due to the extremely wet year that we have experienced, Utah County has set aside $2 million in their 2023 budget for potential flooding expenses, the news release states.

The emergency declarations will allow the county and city to apply for additional funding to respond to flooding from the state and federal government.

None of the four creeks in SLC are expected to reach flood stage

Sandy resident Fred Burton showed off his pond on Wednesday.

“These are our trout in our little pond,” he said. “We love it here.”

It’s where he finds peace. He’s spent more than 30 years building his backyard oasis.

It’s been quite the spring runoff. Since Burton lives near Little Cottonwood Creek in Sandy, he’s been watching the water get closer and closer to its banks.

“It’s within six inches to the top and it’s rough,” he said.

Many homes are near the creek which is why city workers have been busy for months keeping debris out of the channel trying to keep it all from flooding.

Burton said, “We’ve seen them up here and they’ve got a backhoe up at the top where the bride is.”

It’s been so much work and with lots of snow yet to melt, Sandy’s mayor Monica Zoltanski declared an emergency Wednesday morning.

“What an emergency declaration does, is it sets up our city to account for and hopefully seek reimbursement for these excess costs that we’ve experienced all Spring,” Zoltanski said.

 So far, the city has spent about $170,000 for overtime, equipment, and materials to try and keep flooding at a minimum.

The emergency declaration is for Little Cottonwood Creek in Sandy, Dry Creek from Bell Canyon through Dimple Dell, Little Willow Creek, and Big Willow Creek.

The city’s creeks are expected to hit peak runoff in June which is when the mayor hopes all the work that’s been done pays off.

Zoltanski said, “We are very well positioned. We’re in a great spot. But Mother Nature is in charge from this point out, so we can only control so much.”

“We are grateful for the assistance from our Public Utilities Flood Control and Emergency Management team, (Salt Lake County) Mayor (Jenny) Wilson, and the Salt Lake County Flood Control and Emergency staff,” Zoltanski stated in a news release. “Additionally, we especially appreciate the many Sandy city resident volunteers who have provided support by filling and placing sandbags in potential flood areas.”

The emergency declaration extends to Little Cottonwood Creek, Dry Creek from Bell Canyon to Dimple Dell, Little Willow Creek and Big Willow Creek.

City Creek is the one that infamously flooded 40 years ago.

This week it’s running high and fast. But it’s not likely to cause any flooding in the days and weeks ahead.

“I feel like we’re looking really good on all four creeks they come through Salt Lake City,” Jesse Stewart, deputy director of Salt Lake City Public Utilities said.

Right now, it looks like Salt Lake City will escape any major flooding from this record-breaking snow year. None of the four creeks that drain into the city are forecasted to get anywhere near flood stage before the snow runs out.

According to the National Weather Service, Little Cottonwood Creek’s flow rate was most recently recorded at 492 cubic feet per second. While that’s still well below the minor flood stage of around 800 cubic feet per second, the flow rate is expected to increase over the next week.

Flooding has been a major issue in northern Utah after last winter’s snowpack set records. Earlier this month, the Utah Legislature voted to extend Gov. Spencer Cox’s statewide emergency order on flooding and authorize up to $40 million in spending to cover the cost of snow removal and potential flood repairs.

Both orders will remain in effect for 30 days, after which the county commission or city council would need to vote to extend them, if necessary.

For more information about flooding visit floodsmart.gov.

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Utah County, Sandy issue disaster declarations for flood response