Serving Our Community, Protecting Our Environment


When you turn on the faucet to grab a glass of water, the last thing on your mind should be the safety of that water. Pollution is a very real threat, and without careful management, toxins can easily seep into a culinary water system.

Serving more than 400,000 residents across Salt Lake City and County, the Central Wasatch Canyons watershed is vital to our way of life. Citizen confidence in the water they drink is precious, and for decades, Salt Lake City has responsibly protected the watershed.

Toxins slipped into the city’s water primary source is exactly what happened in the 1930s and ‘40s in City Creek Canyon. City Creek and surroundings were overgrazed by cattle and overexposed to human activity. The resulting typhoid fever outbreak sickened thousands and led to several deaths. The city was forced to close the canyon for 12 years, and its uses have been carefully managed ever since.

By state law, Salt Lake City has had the right and obligation to control pollution-causing activities in the nearby canyons. With this authority, our city ordinances limit development within 50 feet of waterways, regulate sanitary facilities, prohibit certain chemical use in the watersheds, and restrict dogs and other domestic animals in the watershed. Our watershed ordinances are in effect above the stream intakes to our water treatment plants in City Creek, Parleys, Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyons.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski stands with previous administrations in protecting these canyons and our water from indiscriminate development and overuse.

Many have tried, unsuccessfully, to change the rules for their benefit. Small groups of landowners have worked for years to chip away at the city’s control of our watershed. These efforts jeopardize the safety, security and access to our crucial water supply.

The State Legislature is likely to take up this issue when the annual session begins on January 23rd. A group of canyon property owners, who bought their land knowing it was restricted and had no access to water, is seeking to change state law through the Legislature to work in their favor.

We will vigorously oppose that effort.

City and county leaders have worked to maintain the proper balance of development and recreation along with watershed protection. We collaborate closely with the public and federal, state, and other municipal agencies to maintain this balance. With increasing population, increasing demand, and changes in supply levels, it is imperative that Salt Lake City ensure the safety and security of the water we drink.

Established in 1876, the Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department works every day to ensure your water comes to you clean and pure. As the oldest retail water provider in the West, environmental stewardship and a commitment to protecting the Wasatch watershed is on the minds of every team member.

We will always protect this precious resource.

Click here to learn more about the Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department.

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