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The City Journals

The ‘stitch’ with Tanner Ditch

May 30, 2017 02:54PM ● By Aspen Perry

District 5 councilman Mark Stewart addresses residents during town hall. (Aspen Perry/City Journals)

By Aspen Perry  |   [email protected]
During a District 5 town hall held in April, Councilman Mark Stewart addressed the issue regarding the Tanner Ditch to concerned residents that filled the Big Cottonwood room at City Hall.
“I came up with this list based on how much contact I’ve received regarding issues that in particular effect District 5,” Stewart said, addressing the crowd.
Stewart explained that the irrigation ditch that runs along 6200 South, with a few canals in the Pheasant Lane area, at one time were privately owned by the Tanner Ditch Company, which consisted of residents along Tanner Ditch, and for years water ran through the ditch with no issue. Several years ago, the Tanner Ditch Company entered into an agreement with Salt Lake City, Holladay City and Murray City that transferred the title of the ditch to Holladay City.
The only way Holladay was able to access water was when Salt Lake City gave authorization, based on enough water existing in the Cottonwood Creek during the spring. During mild winter years, no water was released.
In 2016, Salt Lake City authorized the release of some water, which resulted in a home flooding along the ditch. Due to the liability issue of homes flooding, Holladay decided to shut off the water flow indefinitely. Since then, several residents have reached out to Holladay City concerned about trees that receive water from the ditch.
“When the water goes into the ditch, water seeps into the ground ... and the trees receive water,” Stewart said.
Stewart went on to state, “Myself, the mayor and the city manager have had numerous meetings with representatives from Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Water and Salt Lake Public Works, looking at ways we can get water back into the ditch.”
In agreement with the home owner whose property flooded, the city is planning some testing that will involve releasing water into a small area of the ditch, upon clearance from Salt Lake City, and hold it there to see if the water has any negative effects on the property that previously flooded.
If there are no issues with this phase, the city will slowly release more water down the rest of the ditch.
“If there are no problems, the water will keep going throughout the summer, until there is no more water to go into (the ditch),” Stewart said.
From there, residents who have been in contact with the city plan to form a special service district and will petition the city to transfer ownership to the special service district. The special service district would then take on their own insurance and liability and work with nearby city ditch services to have water funneled through.
During the question-and-answer portion, residents raised concerns regarding lack of maintenance in the creek bed. One resident suggested adding some lining in areas where concrete is deteriorating.
Stewart said adding lining to problem areas may be possible, but to line the entire ditch would detract from the purpose of allowing some of that water to seep into the ground for the purpose of watering the trees.
“Our goal as a city (this year) is to protect the trees if there is not an issue releasing the water,” Stewart said.
Stewart later said that if the initial test did result in flooding, the city would turn the water off and further research the cause of the problem.
There was mild disagreement between two residents, one feeling there was not enough water running through to provide much for the surrounding ground, while the other pointed out that while that may be the case some years, there was plenty of water for the trees during years when there was enough water to flow from April through October.
A 30-year property owner along Tanner Ditch expressed his appreciation of any water they would send his way, and thanked Stewart for his efforts in attempting to figure out the issue.
Stewart assured those in attendance they would receive a flyer letting them know before any water is released. As of the May 11 council working session, no water had been released to test.