Why Big Cottonwood’s runoff isn’t affecting water quality for users

There are procedures to prevent this.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) On Tuesday, May 16, 2023, strong currents flow through Big Cottonwood Creek. Salt Lake City utility officials say additional runoff in the creek will not affect the quality of the water being delivered to residents.

Faster runoff from Big Cottonwood Canyon is expected starting early next week, but Salt Lake City water users needn’t worry about the runoff affecting the water coming out of their faucets, officials said.

Department of Public Utilities spokeswoman Chloe Morroni said the treatment plant at the mouth of the canyon will only accept water up to a certain level of pollution. If the water becomes too polluted — which can happen if the runoff brings with it sediment and debris — authorities allow the stream to bypass the treatment plant and flow into the Jordan River.

Morroni said the facility is in good shape for now, but if the increased water flows force them to temporarily halt water treatment, residents will not feel any disruption to operations. The department can use water from other sewage treatment plants or water districts.

A pause in use of the facility would likely only last during peak discharges and not throughout the discharge season. Runoff from the Wasatch Mountains is expected to ease next month.

Justin Scaccy

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