Sugar House Park water could rise as high as 4 feet; park closed to vehicles


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SALT LAKE CITY — Sugar House Park was closed to vehicles again Saturday, as only foot and bicycle traffic was allowed throughout the week.

Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Director Laura Briefer said the city was monitoring controlled releases at the park's pond.

"Salt Lake City Public Utilities is releasing water from the reservoir system upstream from us in Parleys Canyon," she explained. "The reason for doing that is to be prepared when the Parley's Creek watershed really begins runoff toward the peak of its runoff."

The water was expected to rise several feet in the next few days, and it could cover the road. Fortunately, Sugar House Park was designed to be a detention basin for excess water.

"We're holding that water back, and the point of it is to try to shave off those tops of the peak flows so that downstream we can better control impacts," Briefer said. "Retention works just more to slow the water down."

She said the runoff water is coming from the Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoirs.

"The public utilities team is going to be looking very carefully at the levels of the reservoirs and then what's happening downstream here in this detention facility, and then downstream in Hidden Hollow and then, in the piped part of the system, and we'll be adjusting the flows as necessary," Briefer said.

She explained that the controlled releases are designed to prevent flooding and flood damage.

"We have operators at our water treatment facility that can adjust the flows by adjusting the gates up in the area so they can release more water, open the valves larger or close them smaller," she said.

The high water could force the park to close entirely to all guests, not just to people traveling in vehicles.

"It may be longer," Briefer said. "So much of our runoff characteristics are going to depend on the weather."

With this year's snowpack, it's come in handy that this park's pond was designed to go deep, but it's an unfamiliar sight for many.

"It's been a while," Briefer expressed.

She said for those visiting the park, or any creek, to be careful around the water. It could be deeper and colder than it looks. Also, be sure to keep children and pets close to you and away from the water.

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