Salt Lake City, Sandy cite water concerns in lawsuit over Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola

Dec 11, 2023, 4:05 PM | Updated: 10:28 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation’s decision to move forward with a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon has sparked another lawsuit.

Salt Lake City, the city of Sandy and the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy filed a joint lawsuit in federal court on Monday, seeking to require the agency to file a supplemental environmental impact statement and federal record of decision that focuses more on the possible impact the project may have on Little Cottonwood Creek. They say it’s something that is lagging in the record of decision that UDOT filed in July.

The three entities say they want a new impact statement that meets the standards required in the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Transportation Act of 1966, and the Administrative Procedures Act. They point out that the canyon is a “significant source of drinking water” for residents across the Salt Lake Valley, serving residents in Salt Lake City, Sandy and a handful of other cities.

Its importance is why Salt Lake City leaders voiced concerns about any changes in the canyon throughout UDOT’s project planning process. The process ended when the agency selected a three-phase process to handle traffic in the canyon, ending with a gondola.

“Clean, safe drinking water is not something we take for granted — and we will take every step necessary to ensure this resource is considered and protected for residents throughout the valley,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall in a statement, adding that UDOT’s record of decision “failed” to properly “evaluate water resource impacts.”

The new lawsuit follows one that a pair of nonprofits and a group of residents filed in federal court last week, which seeks to pause the entire project until it fully complies with the National Environmental Policy Act. Representatives of the group argue that the project also is too expensive and there are “far cheaper commonsense solutions” to the the canyon’s traffic problems.

Salt Lake City, Sandy and the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy officials contend that their lawsuit isn’t over the UDOT’s transportation decisions; they’re instead concerned about the water and the impact it may have on residents without a proper analysis.

“Everyone who depends on the water resources from the Little Cottonwood watershed and the Central Wasatch Mountains benefits from a comprehensive process that appropriately considers the impact to water supply and quality,” said Laura Briefer, director of Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities.

A UDOT spokesman said the agency is aware of the lawsuit, but the agency has not yet reviewed it.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

USDOT using federal funding on new technology to make Utah's roads safer. (KSL TV)...

Mike Anderson

USDOT adds new technology to improve road safety

USDOT announced that $20 million of federal funding will be used to program intersections along the Wasatch Front to communicate with emergency vehicles and buses to improve safety on Utah's roads.

44 minutes ago

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site at the Utah Olympic Oval in Park City....

Shara Park

Utah Olympic Park, Utah Olympic Oval will host Olympic Day Celebrations

If you've ever wanted to try the skeleton, speed skating, or meet some of our Olympic athletes, Friday is the day to do it!

58 minutes ago

Officials urge Moab residents to prepare for potential flooding starting Friday. (KSL TV)...

Shelby Lofton

Eastern Utah bracing for extreme weather

A tropical storm that flooded parts of Texas is expected to reach Eastern Utah Friday. Officials urge people to protect their homes from potential flooding from extreme weather.

1 hour ago

Tom Nehring practicing his punches against a punching bag with another boxer....

Emma Benson and Michael Houck, KSL TV

‘This is medicine for me’: A Utah man is battling Parkinson’s with boxing

An interactive class is helping those effected by Parkinson’s disease by keeping them active with boxing.

2 hours ago

Any Hour experts walk KSL through common home heating and cooling mistakes to help people battle su...

Brian Carlson

Heating home mistakes, how to avoid them

Are you making your house hotter by accident? Cooling experts at Any Hour walk KSL through a home in Utah County to show what common mistakes people make and how to avoid them.

2 hours ago

Map of power outages near West Valley City Thursday. (Rocky Mountain Power)...

Carlysle Price

Power outage in West Valley City

Rocky Mountain Power reported approximately 18,200 power outages near West Valley City Thursday afternoon.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Salt Lake City, Sandy cite water concerns in lawsuit over Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola