Sugar House Park closed to vehicles; Officials estimate the elevated water level to be as much as 4 feet

The park is used as a retention basin to mitigate water impact during spring runoff.

(Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation) Sugar House Park experienced high water levels on April 15, 2023.

Controlled reservoir releases will cause high water levels at Sugar House Park, leaving the area closed to vehicular traffic for about a week, officials said Friday.

Releases from the Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoirs could cause the water retained in Sugar House Park to rise as much as 4 feet, according to a Salt Lake County news release. The area is still open to hikers, joggers, and cyclists, but individuals should stay away from standing water due to its unpredictable nature.

The controlled releases are proactive measures to maintain discharge capacity ahead of Parley’s Creek’s “peak” discharge. The released water flows into the creek, then into the pond and retention basin at Sugar House Park – often causing the park’s roadway to be covered.

The park’s roadway was previously closed to vehicular traffic on April 15 due to flooding, which officials estimate will happen again and again as snowmelt continues. The county expects the current closure to vehicles will last about a week, during which individuals can access the park on foot.

“With planned releases and increased flow from Little Dell Reservoir, Parleys Creek will be moving rapidly and the water is cold,” Kade Moncur, director of flood control for Salt Lake County, said in the release. “We ask residents to exercise caution near streams and rivers… The impounded water at Sugarhouse Park will be deeper than expected and can be very dangerous.”

Other parks in the area that serve as catchment areas include Creekside Regional Park, Ben Franklin (Scott Ave) Park, and Wheeler Historic Farm. These pools are designed to temporarily hold water and help mitigate the effects of spring runoff.

Pet owners should also keep their animals away from drains because of dangerous currents that can cause drowning. If a person gets caught in a current or stream, they should point their feet forward and try to swim to the nearest bank, officials advised.

According to the press release, if people see someone trapped in the water, they should throw an object in to help them and call 911 immediately.

For more information on flood control updates, visit the Salt Lake County website.

Justin Scaccy

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