Salt Lake County flood control team works to mitigate risk

Apr 14, 2023, 5:00 PM

flood control work aided by rows of sandbags in salt lake city...

Hundreds of sandbags filled by volunteers sit ready for use along 1700 South near 1700 East in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Apr. 13, 2023. Photo: Becky Bruce/KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — A special Salt Lake County crew works around the clock, all year-long, to help control and prevent any flood event before it happens in the area. 

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson told Inside Sources on KSL NewsRadio the crew focuses on flood mitigation even when the risk remains low. 

Flood control team works year-round

“Our county flood control is out there doing that work year-round,” she said. 

The work? 

“They’re removing a lot of branches, downed trees, etc., tree trunks from the riverbeds themselves,” Wilson said. “The more we can do that, the less we will see when the stream flow increases, that flow land in places we don’t want it,” 

Such as the flooding at 1700 S. and 1700 E. in Sugar House earlier this week. In many places, snowmelt has been impeded from its normal path because of clogged or blocked drains and grates, forcing the water to forge a new path. 

Flood control crews focus on choke points, but Wilson said they also spend time studying the existing snowpack for potential trouble spots. 

“We’re going out, we’re looking at homes and other properties that abut the rivers and making sure that we’re preventing any property damage in the future,” Wilson said. “Our flood control teams are out doing general surveillance of the snowpack [and] the streams themselves.” 

Emergency declaration helps recoup costs

Wilson said the emergency declaration she announced Thursday targets the costs incurred by the county to do this work as well as future clean-up. 

“We declare emergencies more often than we’d like – but it allows us to utilize some of that federal emergency, FEMA, dollars so it doesn’t come out – the payments don’t come on the back of the taxpayer,” she said. 

Wilson said she appreciates hearing stories about neighbors and communities coming together as volunteers to assist flood control and prevention efforts. 

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Salt Lake County flood control team works to mitigate risk