Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Salt Lake County wants a plan for the Oquirrh’s waterways as development moves in

A paved pathway along Midas Creek in Herriman, Utah, May 23, 2024.
Tilda Wilson
A paved pathway along Midas Creek in Herriman, Utah, May 23, 2024.

As growth continues to impact the west side of Salt Lake County, planners want to create a set of guidelines to protect the waterways that carry runoff from the Oquirrh Mountains to the Great Salt Lake.

It's no coincidence that homes are built along creeks in Herriman, Riverton and Bluffdale — they’re a pleasant place to live.

Stan Mathews moved into one of the new housing developments in 2019. His home is part of a retirement community called the Midas Creek Villas, named for the creek that runs beside it. On most days he walks on a path along the creek. It’s sort of a community gathering space. He likes running into “people you know and the familiar strangers that arise on it.”

But right now a lot of people are making decisions about how these waterways are being conserved and maintained for use.

That’s why Jason Wolf, director of canyons management for the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development, said the county is working on a plan for the future known as H2Oquirrh. They are starting to “talk to local communities, understanding what their needs and desires are for these places, and what they wish them to be in the future.”

The plan is modeled on a similar vision created for Seven Canyons Greenways in 2022. That’s a group of creeks that flow from the Wasatch Mountains into Salt Lake City.

The plan encompasses the creeks, washes, and canals running through southwest Salt Lake County.
Courtesy Design Workshop
The plan encompasses the creeks, washes, and canals running through southwest Salt Lake County.

Anna Laybourn is a designer at Design Workshop, a landscape architecture firm involved with both plans. Some creeks in the area already have ongoing projects, and she said the key is making sure all those efforts are working together toward similar goals.

Laybourn said Salt Lake County “wanted to make sure it's all connected on a regional basis because of course, these waterways are all connected. And how the water flows into them and the quality of them–all that’s a connected system as well.”

So far, the county has written an existing conditions report, which goes into detail about the conditions and uses of the waterways in the area. Now they’re getting a sense of what the community wants their future to look like.

This means surveying locals about how they use the waterways and what they know about them. That survey is open until May 31.

After the plan is created, it will go through several rounds of community feedback before it's finalized this fall.

In the short term, Wolf said this “might be looking at preservation of these spaces, whether that's through conservation, purchase agreements, that sort of thing.”

Down the road the plan might include the development of more recreational trails and even ideas like “restoring some of the waterways, if that's the desire.”

Updated: May 24, 2024 at 1:57 PM MDT
Updated with the name of the county's program, which is known as H2Oquirrh.
Tilda is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in the Central Utah bureau based out of Provo.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.