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Increasing number of garbage islands forming on Jordan River

Posted at 9:58 PM, Sep 18, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Joseph Meyer was heading across the bridge at Rose Park Golf Course to play the back nine the other day when he noticed a big island of garbage on the Jordan River.

“As I walk through here, I happened to see this, and I was shocked," he said. "People were driving by, biking on the path and jogging, but nobody seemed to care.”

It’s not the only one; the Jordan River Commission has recently counted about 20 of these islands.

“There have been a number of storms, and when there are storms, trees fall down, limbs fall down into the Jordan River, and those become dams for stuff that runs down through our stormwater system," said Soren Simonsen, the commission's executive director.

Litter that shoots down storm drains all over Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties ends up in the Jordan River, Simonsen said. Recently, Salt Lake City created a special wetland area to try to mitigate the garbage.

“Rather than sending all the stormwater that runs off paved streets and parking lots directly to the Jordan River, this facility allows it to filter through a water treatment system and then goes through a waterfall that aerates it, and then the water eventually moves through this wetland before emerging in the Jordan River," he said.

The commission’s Get to the River Festival this year is focused on celebrating the Jordan River and getting people to care about protecting it.

“We're just encouraging people this month to be really mindful about their connections to the watershed and to make cleaning up around your home, your business, your school, your park, wherever you spend time, part of your regular activity," said Simonsen.

Tuesday night, the Salt Lake City Council will be looking at a grant application for tree and debris removal on the Jordan River.