A northern Utah reservoir could soon spill over, and flood worries in Weber could last weeks, says a local water manager

Scott Paxman, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District general manager, says East Canyon Reservoir is absorbing more water than it can release.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Emigration Creek roars in Emigration Canyon on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

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Worries of flooding around northern Utah could very well continue through the coming weeks.

After water spilled into the road through Ogden Canyon early Monday morning, a local water manager told The Salt Lake Tribune it could be weeks before the water lowers.

Elsewhere in northern Utah, at least one reservoir — East Canyon, located in Morgan County — could reach its capacity and could spill over in the coming weeks, according to Scott Paxman, general manager of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

“East Canyon is another one that we really worry about,” Paxman said Monday. “There’s just a ton of snow up there that’s got to come down.”

He said East Canyon Creek is limited on how much water it can carry without flooding. Paxman said the water district is limited to releasing about 300 cubic feet of water per second, “and there’s probably over 1,000 cubic feet per second coming into the reservoir right now.”

“It’s starting to fill, and in that one, I don’t think there’s a question that it will probably spill before we’re finished with the winter snow melt,” he told The Tribune. If the water spills over, there would be no way to ease the flow, and the water would flow downstream uncontrolled. However, it wouldn’t mean the dam failed and most dams have spillways to handle overflows.

Elsewhere in northern Utah, emergency crews were dispatched to Ogden Canyon early Monday morning, where they found water had spilled onto the lone roadway that goes through the canyon, according to a Facebook post from the Weber Fire District. Emergency crews later found out the flooding was due to a blockage, and the road was not compromised.

Lisa Schwartz Gosline, Weber County’s emergency manager, said those who live in the Ogden Canyon have been sandbagging for weeks.

Paxman said the high amount of water flowing through Ogden Canyon could be here to stay for the coming weeks, as a lot of water needs to be released from reservoirs to keep up with snowmelt.

“It’s probably going to stay at that level for the next several weeks, I’m afraid,” Paxman said. “So they’re not going to get much of a break.”

Paxman added there’s enough snow left in the Ogden Valley to fill up Pineview, and then some. He estimated between two-and-a-half and three times the total volume of Pineview is still trapped in the mountains above.

“So that’s all got to come down — except for what we can fill Pineview with — that’s all got to come down and through the reservoir and out the bottom end and all the way to the Great Salt Lake,” he said.

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City announced flood warnings in two parts of Weber County on Monday — one along the Weber River near Plain City in western Weber County, and the other for the south fork of the Ogden River.

To the north in Rich County, Garden City’s mayor announced a state of emergency to prepare for flooding. The NWS issued an aerial flood warning for the town Monday, saying in a tweet the warning would be in effect until Thursday afternoon.

The Weber River is expected to pass flood stage Tuesday afternoon and could stay there through Friday, according to the NWS. The Ogden River south fork could be between flood stages from Tuesday to Thursday before peaking Friday morning.

Schwartz Gosline said residents in unincorporated areas of Weber County, like those in west Weber and in Ogden Canyon, can report active flooding by calling 801-395-8221. For those who see active blockages in rivers and streams, residents are encouraged to text a photo to 801-870-5153.