(KCPW News) This afternoon, the Salt Lake County Council is considering adopting a riparian overlay zone similar to an ordinance passed by the Salt Lake City council earlier this year. Natalie Rees, the county's water resources specialist, says it's one of the most important of 15 goals outlined in the draft Water Quality Stewardship Plan.
"We've done a lot of restoration work along the Jordan River, and we've also facilitated land acquisition in different areas of the county. But to be honest with you, we are kind of losing that battle, if you are trying to acquire each parcel that would be important to protect," Rees says.
The county already has a riparian ordinance that protects streams in the eastern foothills. However, Rees says there should be a riparian ordinance that applies to the whole county. But there's a complication. The majority of the land along the county's 20 major streams is within city limits, and subject only to city ordinances. So, the plan's effectiveness really hinges on whether each city will adopt the county's riparian zone policy.
"As we've met with the mayors of the various cities, there's been a lot of enthusiasm, to be honest with you. We've had several cities that said, we want to be the gold-star water quality city," Rees says. "And I feel like the momentum is in our favor right now."
Murray and West Valley City have taken steps to improve the Jordan River corridor. Rees says Cottonwood Heights and Riverton are also interested in a county-wide riparian ordinance. However, property owners tend to be more hesitant. Salt Lake City's new riparian ordinance has triggered two lawsuits.