SLC officials relaunch campaign to keep watersheds clean

Silver Lake, which is a Salt Lake City watershed. Photo Courtesy:

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall joined other local officials Monday to reboot Salt Lake City’s “Keep It Pure” initiative.

“With more and more people visiting our mountains and their precious forested watersheds, it is more important than ever for people to Keep It Pure,” said a news release from Salt Lake City. “About 60 percent of the city’s drinking water comes from these canyon watersheds in the central Wasatch Mountains. This water is naturally pure and requires only minimal processing. That is why it’s critical for people visiting our mountain watersheds to be good stewards and understand simple ways to avoid activities that can degrade these areas.”

Mendenhall said: “We know that without an abundant and reliable source of pure, clean water, the city would not be able to attain and maintain the phenomenal growth we have experienced, and we would not have the quality of life we all enjoy. The stakes are also high because our watersheds’ pure water is less expensive to treat, transport, and store. It would be a sobering price tag if we had to build new infrastructure because water is no longer pure or available.”

Officials added there are watershed areas in City Creek, Emigration, Parleys, Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon. They provide drinking water that 360,000 people depend on every day.

“Providing high-quality, safe drinking water to growing communities in the Salt Lake Valley when Utah is the second driest state in the nation is no easy task,” the news release said. “The city is tremendously fortunate to have an amazing source of high-quality, pure water in its nearby mountain watersheds. But according to officials, the watersheds, which for more than a century have been carefully managed and cared for, are being severely challenged by the increasing demand being placed on them as more and more people look for places to exercise and recreate outdoors, and by global warming impacts that can reduce snowfall and increase fire risks.”

In Salt Lake City, much of the watershed lands are in publicly accessible national forests and on the 36,000 acres that the city has acquired. The collaborative management process that has been used has allowed Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities to meet water quality standards while accommodating growing demands for recreation.

“Being able to align two community values requires a balanced approach using a combination of strategies,” said Mendenhall. “That means we must all work together to take care of our precious watersheds. All of us must do our part. We cannot take our water, watersheds, and our ability to freely access these watershed areas for granted. We must all have a strong sense of stewardship.”

The Keep It Pure initiative’s purpose is to educate people about where water comes from, how important watershed areas are, how the water coming from them is very pure, that there is a need to keep it pure through good stewardship, and what are the do’s and don’ts when you spend time in them. Those tips include: Stay out of the water, stay on designated trails, only use bathroom facilities, do not litter, keep dogs and other domesticated animals out of watershed areas, and observe all the posted guidelines.

“Imagine turning on the tap in the morning to find a stream of unpleasant brown sludge that tastes like metal,” said Salt Lake County Health Department Bureau Water Quality and Hazardous Waste Manager Teresa Gray. “That was the reality of residents of Flint, Michigan when lead from aging pipes seeped into their water system and poisoned an entire community.”

According to Gray, many places are struggling because their water is not pure and not reliable. Places throughout the nation are dealing with impacts of industrial pollution, the news release said.

A community partner that came forward to help the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities with the Keep It Pure endeavor was Uinta Brewing. Uinta Brewing volunteered to create special packaging for their Westwater hard seltzer that is made with pure central Wasatch Mountain water. The packaging has the Keep It Pure logo and the tips on it.

For more information about the Keep It Pure initiative visit


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