On Sunday, August 18, 2018, in the early morning before sunrise, a large irrigation pipe broke on a hill on the west side of Memory Grove Park. This happened at approximately 3 AM and Salt Lake City staff were unable to turn the pipe off until 5:30 AM. Throughout the two-and-a-half hours, before the water was turned off, water eroded the hillside creating a 20’ deep 10’ wide hole. The water flow displaced a significant amount of dirt turned to mud that washed down the hill covering the entryway to Canyon Road and blocking the gate into Memory Grove Park. Salt Lake City Public Utilities staff arrived first with four vacuum trucks used to remove dirt from the storm drain lines and the street. Salt Lake City Parks employees blocked off the damaged hillside and cleared remaining dirt and debris from the area. Overall, three City agencies including the Public Utilities Department, Parks Division, and Streets Division worked together to ensure the site was safe and usable by the next day.
It is not uncommon for water lines to occasionally break, however the size of the line, location of the break and time of day and year of this event caused significant financial impact. The cost billed to Public Lands related to cleanup totaled more than $12,000 for labor and equipment. These costs are unpredictable and can significantly impact the Divisions budget.
Parks staff have worked hard to clean the area and roadway, however the hillside has been significantly damaged and requires additional repairs. Based on a recent estimate, the hillside repair could cost in excess of $50,000. Parks and Public Lands has submitted a funding request to City Council, to cover the costs of hillside restoration, water fees, and cleanup. To prevent this from happening in the future, Parks staff will install a master valve to reduce the chances of significant damage if a pipe breaks again.