Safety and flood warnings near rivers; reservoirs hit capacity

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SOUTH JORDAN — Heavy snow two years in a row left reservoirs filled to the brim. Now, high temperatures are making rivers more active than usual.

Utah Lake has been pumping water into the Jordan River since February, and it's nearing a record high.

"Any homes or any infrastructure that's really close to the banks could have an increased chance of groundwater issues," said Kade Moncur, Salt Lake County's flood control director.

Moncur said structures that have previously flooded — including in 2011, when rivers were running at a similar rate — could flood again.

"That's pretty frustrating for anybody that lives in those areas," he said. "And if you've seen groundwater in the past, in 2011 or other times, you might be more susceptible."

Moncur said there has been groundwater flooding near Bluffdale and South Jordan.

"If you have a sump pump installed, or you're thinking about getting a sump pump installed, that would just be the time to do it," he said.

Moncur said the groundwater mostly impacts basements, garages, sheds, and even basketball courts. He advised that the Salt Lake County Public Work Operations building in Midvale has sandbags available. People can get up to 25 sandbags per vehicle.

People also need to remain alert on the river.

"Anybody that wants to kayak or boat on the river could have an increased chance of problems," Moncur said.

He said it's likely water will 'lap onto the path,' especially where the river crosses or goes underneath major roadways. Moncur also said people should watch out for oncoming obstructions like dams.

"Try to get out and go around," he said.

From Monday:

The Jordan River isn't rushing as much as the Provo River, where officials have already cautioned people to stay out of the water. But they are urging extra caution around all bodies of water right now. Rivers, reservoirs and lakes are at high levels, and will stay there for some time.

Moncur said that Utah's reservoirs are between 80% and 90% full. The ones upstream from Utah Lake are releasing water there, then into the Jordan River. Then it goes to the Great Salt Lake.

"I think we're on the down-trend. So most of our highest watersheds have peaked," Moncur said. "Still, very full of water, still moving very fast and cold."

Officials told KSL it's a good rule to keep at least 40 feet away from the water, but it may not be worth the risk to bring your children to rivers at this time, due to how high and how fast many of them are flowing.

"We're going to continue to see these increased flows all the way through June, July and into August," Moncur said. "It can continue a little past there, but we're going to see a higher level all the way through the summer."

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