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Surplus Canal Deficiency Rehabilitation Project

Project Overview

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) partnered with Salt Lake County in the early 1960’s to increase the Surplus Canal’s capacity using levees. Federal oversight of levees increased following Hurricane Katrina and the catastrophic failures in the New Orleans levees in 2005. In 2012, USACE conducted a Levee Safety Program Periodic Inspection of the Surplus Canal and identified many deficiencies. In the subsequent 2017 USACE inspection, more than 300 deficiencies were identified and categorized as unacceptable. As a result, the Surplus Canal was delisted by USACE. SLCo is working to address these deficiencies. As a result of the 2012/2017 USACE inspections, a large portion of the west side of Salt Lake City could be mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into a special flood hazard area. If FEMA maps this area as a floodplain, property owners with a mortgage would likely be required to purchase flood insurance. Additionally, the area would not be eligible for federal recovery funding if it floods while it is delisted.

Through the Surplus Levee Deficiency Rehabilitation Project, SLCo Flood Control is working to bring the Surplus Levees back into USACE compliance. To do so, the Surplus Levee Deficiency Rehabilitation Project must address the unacceptable encroachment violations, including those on property that is privately owned. We are working to:

  1. Determine all encroachments on property currently owned by the County or other government entities
  2. Acquire property within 10 feet of the land-side toe of the levee
  3. Relocate fences outside USACE jurisdiction 
  4. Remove all encroachments on the newly acquired property.



Salt Lake County is taking a phased approach to acquire the property necessary to fully address deficiencies. 

Phased Approach Graphic. 2021 and beyond will focus on violation removal and property acquisition





Please open the Surplus Map in a new window here. Enter your address to zoom to your property. The bright line represents the current right-of-way. 

A levee is an embankment constructed to prevent the overflow of a body of water. USACE is responsible for the overall regulation of the federal levee system. Salt Lake County is the local sponsor partner of the Jordan River levee system, which includes both banks of the Salt Lake County Surplus Canal. The Surplus levees along the Jordan River and Surplus Canal run from the Mill Creek confluence downstream to the Goggin Drain west of the Salt Lake City International Airport. 

Click image below to view map. 

West Valley


What process can I expect?

  • Initial visit is an introduction with County representatives, engineering, and a right-of-way (ROW) professional  to discuss the impact to your property. The ROW professional will review personal property that may be impacted (i.e., sheds, planter beds, sod, trees, etc.).
  • The valuation of the impact will be completed by a ROW professional and / or appraiser.  Expect 4-8 weeks for the valuation by the County.
  • After County concurrence, the ROW professional will present the offer to purchase.
  • You can sign the offer to purchase on presentation, or anticipate regular follow up after the initial offer is extended, until the deed / easement and contract are signed.
  • Once documents are signed, please plan on 6-8 weeks for checks to be available for pickup. A Salt Lake County Flood Control staff member will contact you when your check is available. 
  • Only a property owner whose name is listed on the deed will be able to pick up the check. A photo ID must be presented at the time of pickup. Property owner must sign for the check.


    Resource:  Property Rights Ombudsman



  1. Levee limits and location
    • Please see maps tab.
  2. Purpose and usage history
    • The canal was constructed in 1885 to control flooding along the portion of the Jordan River that passes through Salt Lake City (SLC) by diverting floodwater from the river. Unfortunately, there are no available records of the original construction.
    • In the late 1950s, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) partnered with Salt Lake County to increase the canal’s flood capacity and carry the majority of the Jordan River flows from 2100 South to the Great Salt Lake. The project was constructed in 1960 and provides protection to about 5,800 acres of land in Salt Lake Valley.
    • The canal has undergone numerous modifications since completion. The largest was the realignment of the canal and levees adjacent to SLC International Airport. To accommodate a runway expansion, the canal was realigned twice; first in the early 1980s, and again in the early 1990s. In 1983, a flood restoration project dredged the channel to remove sediment and vegetation along approximately 7 miles of canal beginning at the Goggin Drain and ending near Highway 201. Other modifications have consisted mainly of minor encroachment-related updates.
  3. Who owns it?
    • Salt Lake County Flood Control maintains the Surplus Canal. Salt Lake County also owns a majority of the property inside the levee. Unfortunately, some of the encroachments flagged by USACE are on residential property, commercial property, or property owned by other government entities. While these encroachments are typically outside the top of the levee, they are within the area needed to maintain the levee, as required by the USACE.
  4. Who regulates it, and what are the regulations and rules?
    • USACE regulates the levee systems under Public Law 84-99. Salt Lake County must comply with the USACE Levee Safety Program. All encroachments on the levee right-of-way must be permitted through the USACE 408 process, which is initiated through Salt Lake County’s Flood Control Permit process.
  5. There's a lot of homeless activity in the area.
    • The County has noticed an increase in homeless activity along the canal. Fencing and other property security concerns are among the County’s priorities. 
  6. I live/own property adjacent to the levee, what are my rights?
  7. Where does my property line actually fall?
    • Please refer to the project webmap to view parcel boundaries. These boundaries are representational and ARE NOT survey quality, but they are close. Property owners will be contacted by County consultants who will have individual property documents with survey quality data.
  8. Why now?
    • USACE conducted an inspection of this federally authorized levee systems in 2019. Preliminary information suggests similar deficiencies found in the 2012 inspection. These deficiencies have resulted in an unacceptable rating for the levee systems.
  9. I see the County driving the levee regularly. What are they doing?
    • USACE requires the County to regularly drive the canal. County employees are maintaining ROW and assessing potential violations.
  10. What is the timeline for the levee project?
    • Please see the schedule tab for the project timeline
  11. What are violations?
    • Violations are flagged by USACE and include any unpermitted activities or encroachments within the levee right of way.
    • Salt Lake County is working with commercial and residential property owners to remove or permit existing violations that have been identified by USACE.
    • Violation removal is important, in part, to avoid the area being re-mapped by FEMA as a Special Flood Hazard Area, and to bring the levee into compliance with Federal regulations.
  12. Why are trees considered violations?
    • Tree roots can damage the levee system. Trees also hinder maintenance work and crew access for flood fighting purposes.
  13. How will the trees be replaced?
    • An arborist from Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation will be involved throughout the project. For each tree removed, a new one will be planted outside of the right of way in locations where the new trees will be most likely to survive. 
    • Cut trees will be chipped and repurposed to the extent practical and will be used for access roads and onsite mulching. 
  14. Who do I contact if I have questions?

Levee Inspection Results Newsletter

Tree Removal


Left: Area Map. Right: Construction Notice. As early as Monday, September 20, 2021 crews will begin tree removal to protect the levee and surrounding properties. 

Click here to enlarge map

Project Goals: 

  • Address levee deficiencies identified by USACE 
  • Protect the levee and surrounding properties
  • Clear levee ROW to allow for maintenance and flood fighting access
  • Mitigate tree removals by replanting a minimum of 1 new tree for each removed

Project Information:

  • The Surplus Canal levee system provides protection for a large portion of Salt Lake City from approximately 2900 S to the SLC International Airport. Through the Surplus Canal Levee Deficiency Rehabilitation Project, Salt Lake County Flood Control (SLCo FC) is working to bring the Surplus Canal Levee Systems into compliance with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulations.
  • Dozens of large trees in the Redwood Nature Area have been marked as violations by the USACE and must be removed. The trees are located within the levee right-of-way and removal is required in order to keep the tree roots from damaging the levee and to allow maintenance and flood fighting access. Additionally, failure to remove these violations could result in the entire area protected by the levees being re-mapped by FEMA as a special flood hazard area, which would result in property owners in this area being required to carry flood insurance. This would cost thousands of dollars annually.
  • SLCo FC will mitigate these removals by planting a new tree for each tree that is removed. They are working with SLCo Parks and Recreation to determine optimal locations outside of the levee right-of-way for these plantings. These locations will be determined primarily based on where new trees will be likely to survive. A SLCo Parks and Recreation arborist will also help determine what kinds of trees will be planted. 

For more information, see FAQ or contact 855.740.8740