SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Salt Lake City leaders say they are more prepared for flooding this time around after making “substantial investments” into drainage infrastructure improvements designed to mitigate flooding risks from spring runoff.

“We’ve made significant infrastructure investments since the floods of 1983 that make us more prepared this time around,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We know this is a big concern for our residents and we’re taking it seriously in our planning and preparation. From a robust storm water system, to debris basins and the addition of Little Dell reservoir, Salt Lake City and our flood control partners, including Salt Lake County, have been preparing for decades to ensure the best possible outcomes for our residents in high snowpack years.” 

Some of the drainage improvements in Salt Lake City include:

  • Addition of debris basins along City Creek that allow rocks, branches, and other debris to settle so crews can remove the material before it becomes a problem. (During the 1983 spring runoff, the storm drain carrying City Creek flows in North Temple became clogged with debris that extended four city blocks.)
  • Grate improvements in Memory Grove to prevent potential backups. 
  • Piped drainage system improvements to allow for better conveyance of spring runoff.
  • Little Dell Reservoir was constructed between 1987 and 1993 as a flood control and water storage facility.

As spring finally arrives in Utah, warming temperatures are causing the record-breaking snowpack to melt at a concerning rate, prompting questions about whether there will be a return of the 1983 flood that turned State Street into a river.

Salt Lake County officials have listed a few ways the community can prepare for flooding:

  • Clear debris from drains and stream banks
    • Remove debris from roadway gutters and storm drains closest to your property. Keep all yard debris away from stream banks and out of the stream.
  • Get sandbags early
    • You are responsible for protecting your property during floods. Consider getting sandbags in advance to protect your home or business.
    • Here’s a list of locations in Salt Lake County residents can go to fill up sandbags.
  • Monitor weather
  • Monitor streamflow

Residents can also check whether their neighborhood is located in a flood-prone area on the Salt Lake County flood preparedness website or the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.

Floodplain map of Salt Lake County (Courtesy of Salt Lake County)

“As we enter this time of uncertainty surrounding potential flooding, Salt Lake City Emergency Management wants to remind everyone to have an emergency plan in place should their home be affected by flooding,” said Richard Boden, Salt Lake City Fire Division Chief, City Emergency Manager. “This includes having extra nonperishable food items, extra water, medications, and other important necessities stocked for up to 96 hours.”

For more information about flood zone locations, flood preparedness tips and flood insurance, check out the Salt Lake County flood preparedness website.