A storm for the record books keeps SLC crews busy

Crews from Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities will spend the day clearing debris from streams, canals, and drains after Thursday’s record-breaking rainstorm.

IMG_3328According to measurements from Public Utilities—the agency charged with maintaining Salt Lake City’s sewer, storm water, and drinking water systems—Thursday’s storm dropped more than 2” of rain in the City in less than 24-hours. The Salt Lake City International Airport reported 1.97” of rain, setting a new one-day record for rainfall in March.

“The storm produced steady showers all day,” said Laura Briefer, Director of Public Utilities. “We were on edge a couple of times, but we made the right calls, and were able to send our crews home last night to get some rest before coming back today for clean up.”

Thanks to their proactive approach, no significant flooding occurred in Salt Lake City as a result of the storm. During the storm, Public Utilities, working with other agencies, took steps to address the rising water, including reducing the flow from Little Dell reservoirs and opening secondary canals, to make room for runoff in the Jordan River.

“It’s a complex system, but it worked like it is supposed to,” said Jesse Stewart, Deputy Director of Public Utilities, while touring operations this morning. “Our crews are out today, continuing to remove debris from grates and clearing out clogged storm drains ahead of tomorrow’s projected storm.”

Along with water, the runoff deposits debris like branches, leaves, logs, and sometimes entire trees into the area’s waterways. As it flows downstream this debris gets caught in drains and grates and needs to be removed by hand or heavy equipment. Public Utilities also deploys a fleet of vacuum trucks, which are used to clear clogged storm drains on city streets.

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With above average snowpack in the region, Salt Lake City is preparing for higher than normal runoff this Spring. Though not concerned, the City has prepared thousands of sandbags and stockpiled additional empty bags for use. The City was recently able to provide Box Elder County with sandbags and pumps during flooding in Northern Utah.

“While it’s nothing the City can’t handle, residents may see increased flows in the City’s streams and creeks, and should always avoid entering them,” said Laura Briefer. “We are checking the snowpack and runoff projections every day, and we feel confident this is going to be a good water year for us. As always, we are prepared to provide clean drinking water to more than 340,000 residents in the Salt Lake Valley.”

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