Sugar House Park closed to vehicles; officials estimate increased water levels as high as 4 feet

The park is used as a detention basin to mitigate water impacts 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, so the area will close to vehicle traffic for about a week, officials said Friday.

Releases from Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoir could cause water detained in Sugar House Park to rise as high as 4 feet, according to a news release from Salt Lake County. The area is still open to walkers, joggers and bikers, but individuals should stay out of any standing water due to its unpredictable nature.

The controlled releases are proactive measures in order to maintain runoff capacity ahead of “peak” runoff from Parley’s Creek. The released water feeds into the creek, then into the pond and detention basin at Sugar House Park — which frequently results in the park’s roadway being covered.

The park’s roadway was previously closed to vehicle traffic on April 15 due to high water, something officials estimated will occur on-and-off as snowmelt continues. The county predicts the current closure to vehicles will last about one week, during which individuals may access the park by foot.

“With planned releases and increased flow from Little Dell Reservoir, Parleys Creek will be moving fast, and the water is cold,” Kade Moncur, Salt Lake County’s director of flood control, said in the release. “We ask residents to please be careful around creeks and rivers... The impounded water in Sugarhouse Park will be deeper than you expect and can be very dangerous.”

Other area parks that act as detention basins include Creekside Regional Park, Ben Franklin (Scott Ave) Park, and Wheeler Historic Farm. These basins are designed to temporarily hold water and help mitigate the impacts of spring runoff.

Pet owners should also keep their animals away from any waters affected by the runoff because of dangerous currents that can lead to drowning. If a person does get caught in a current or stream, they should point their feet in front of them and try to swim toward the closest shore, officials advised.

If individuals see someone caught in water, they should throw an object in to help them and call 911 immediately, according to the release.

More information on flood control updates can be found on Salt Lake County’s website.