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UPD Reminds Public To Stay Clear Of Watersheds As Canyon Foot Traffic Climbs

Whittney Evans

As temperatures rise and Utahns head into the canyons to recreate, Unified Police want to remind hikers, climbers and campers to be mindful of protected watersheds.

Here’s something you might find surprising: The same roaring stream you cross on your Sunday in Little Cottonwood Canyon could reach your kitchen tap by Monday.

Jesse Stewart Deputy Director at Salt Lake City Public Utilities is worried about finding in the water high levels of bacteria like giardia and E.coli that come from animal and human waste.

“The better it is coming in, the easier and most cost-effective it is to treat coming out and the higher likelihood we’ll treat everything before it comes out,” Stewart says.

UPD spokesman Lex Bell says the busier the canyons get, the more watershed violations occur.

He says last year UPD wrote roughly 600 citations which average around $650.

Hikers are often cited for bringing dogs on hikes where dogs aren’t allowed. Those places include City Creek Canyon, Parleys, Dell and Lambs Canyons as well as both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.

Bell says the second most often violated rule is getting in the water

“These lakes, at the end of a long hike I’m sure look very inviting for a swim or to get your shirt wet, whatever it may be, but you can’t do that,” Bell says. “You can’t get in the water at all.”

UPD has eight to ten officers patrolling canyons at any given time.

Corner Canyon in Draper was recently closed to dogs due to high levels of bacteria in the water. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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