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Engineers, crews work to avert repeat of 1983 flooding

Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 04, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — With a record snow season that’s ongoing and a possible warm up on the way, parts of Utah could see flooding across the state. But after two major flood events over the past 50 years, infrastructure has changed or improved to help make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Salt Lake County flooding and engineering crews are working to make sure that with this historic water year, the runoff water stays in creeks and streams by improving the drainage system.

“Reinforcing and increasing the capacity of the infrastructure that actually carries the water from the watershed down through the valley and intro the Great Salt Lake," said Salt Lake County Emergency Management Director Clint Mecham.

According to Mecham, the draining systems across the county now is in a better place than in 1983 when State Street became a river to divert the run off water from homes and businesses in downtown Salt Lake City.

“Do I expect to see something like ‘83? Probably not,” he said. “Could we see some water that actually goes over roads and stuff? Depending on how mother nature cooperates or not, we could see water on the roads, but we shouldn’t see another event like 1983.”

Mecham added that crews have made improvements to City Creek to keep the water from overflowing, so the city won’t need to create a river on State Street to do that. Teams also added and reinforced culverts which are basically large pipes, to direct large water.

“Those kind of structures that are now in place will handle a much greater volume of water than they could back in 83, or 2010 or 11,” said Mecham.

There are ways residents can also help.

“If you see branches or leaves clogging a storm drain, as long as there’s no water you have to get into, go ahead and flip that onto the parkway strip,” said Mecham.