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Utah County set aside $2 million for flooding. It needed at least $10 million

North Nebo Road is washed out above the Pete Winward Dam, May 27, 2023.
U.S. Forest Service
North Nebo Road is washed out above the Pete Winward Dam, May 27, 2023.

Flooding from spring runoff is causing rivers and creeks to run high, and completely washing out the roads in popular recreation areas in Utah County.

The county commission says flood-related damages for Utah County and impacted cities total approximately $10,218,000.00. Initially, the 2023 budget only set aside $2 million to cover costs related to potential flooding. The county has surpassed that amount.

So now the county is turning to state and federal funding to help.

On Tuesday, May 30, 2023, Utah County Commission chair Amelia Powers Gardner signed a declaration of a state of local disaster.

Some of the key areas the county says need attention are the Spanish Fork River, which has experienced high water levels, and five sections of the road that washed away in Payson Canyon on the Nebo Loop.

The U.S. Forest Service is working with Utah and Juab counties to rebuild the destroyed road.

Sarah Flinders, recreation staff officer for Spanish Fork and Pleasant Grove Ranger Districts for the Forest Service, said damages are estimated between $750,000 to $1,000,000.

"We are working on a bid package right now. They've had contractors out this week, I believe, looking at those two major failures,” she said. “They do estimate that the repairs will take up to a month after we get a contractor in place.”

There are still 30 inches of snow that need to melt at one of the mountain sites in the Provo watershed. Just another sign of this year’s robust snowpack.

Powers Gardner said mitigation efforts that began in February put the county in a good place, otherwise, things could have been worse.

"We really spent a lot of effort on mitigation. We cleaned out channels and canals.

Things like Dry Creek (in Lehi) that have been dry for decades. We made sure we're cleaned out."

She believed the south end of the county may have seen the worst of the spring runoff, but there are still concerns in northern Utah County.

Powers Gardner is hopeful additional funds from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help cover costs on repairs related to flooding countywide, and said they will take as much help as they can get.

“We have some specific asks. We have some debris basins that are getting pretty full. That it's going to cost several million dollars to clean out those debris basins,” she said.

Powers Gardner said the county also plans on asking if the state of Utah would be willing to partner.

“What we would like to do is kind of have a split. If we can pull some money out of our reserves. Are you willing to match those funds and can we work together in this time of emergency?"

Curtis Booker is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in Central Utah.
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