Frequently Asked Questions

A Word About Balance

In this the second driest state we often hear water described as community life blood. Providing safe, reliable, reasonably priced water, now and for future generations, is the mission of the District. The District has a fiduciary responsibility to its member cities and to the public those member cities serve. The District is also obligated to diligently understand, respect, and protect the rights of those impacted by the Cottonwoods
Connection Project. The District’s office and maintenance buildings, one of its treatment plants, a portion of the SLA, other District facilities, and this project are all located in Cottonwood Heights.

Cottonwood Heights’ residents are valued customers of Salt Lake City Public Utilities, one of the District’s member cities. The District has a large stake in doing right by all of the residents of Cottonwood Heights. The District is also obligated to be a good steward of the public funds entrusted to the District. Retail water customers of the District’s member cities, including those residents of Cottonwood Heights, will ultimately pay the cost for the Cottonwoods Connection project. The District is committed to doing its best to get these potentially conflicting obligations right.

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What is the schedule for Phase 1 of the Cottonwoods Connection Project?

Will the existing SLA be sliplined at the same time the SLAR is installed?

No. The District currently anticipates sliplining the SLA after 2035. Sliplining the SLA will reduce the carrying capacity of the SLA. The SLA capacity must be maintained until the SLAR is fully extended to its terminus at 3300 S.

How big will the SLAR and CC be?

The District and its consulting engineers continue to evaluate the final diameters for the SLAR and CC. The following dimensions are currently anticipated: SLAR inside diameter of 48 to 63 inches; and CC inside diameter of 36 to 48 inches.

How much distance will separate the SLAR from the SLA?

The anticipated distance between the SLA and SLAR is 14.5 feet from centerline to centerline. There may be places where this distance is different due to terrain, operational constraints, conflicts with other improvements, or other conditions.

Will there be isolation valves on the SLAR?

Valves, specifically isolation valves, are anticipated at each end of the SLAR and potentially at the District’s 10-Million Gallon Reservoir which is located north of Memorial Estates. Valves of this size are expensive and can have adverse impacts on hydraulics, impose perpetual maintenance costs, and present designers with service life and risk considerations.

Is the system to be more robust?

It is anticipated that the SLAR will be constructed out of welded steel. Welded steel construction is the most robust and least susceptible to leaks caused from ground shaking when properly designed.

Will the public have access to the alignment of the SLAR once a final decision has been made?

Yes. The final alignment will be posted to this website when available. The District anticipates that notice will be provided to affected residents by way of flyers or door hangers, and emails to those who have provided email addresses. Please sign up to receive emails regarding the Cottonwoods Connection Project

Does the District currently have the property rights to construct the SLAR?

The District recognizes that almost without exception its easements for the SLA Corridor in the location of Phase 1 (Tracts 421–435) do not allow for construction of a parallel pipe. The District has chosen to acquire new easement rights for the SLAR. The District believes this is the fairest path for all parties as it will create a better defined easement and provide just compensation to impacted property owners for new easement rights.

What will the terms be for new SLAR easements, particularly regarding restoration of: landscaping, irrigation systems, fences, hardscape, retaining walls, etc.?

Once a final alignment has been selected, the District or its contractor will contact individual residents to discuss this issue. The easements will likely include the following:

  • A description of the location of the easement, including its width
  • The purpose of the easement
  • Uses of the underlying property that are consistent with the easement
  • The District’s restoration obligations as part of construction or any future use of the easement
  • Alternative dispute resolution procedures if there are future disagreements

It is possible the District or its contractor will need to acquire temporary construction easements as well in some areas.

Restoration cannot necessarily mean exact replication. Replacement plants may be smaller/younger than existing plants and species may be similar but not exact. Some existing uses may be incompatible with the SLAR and the SLAR easement rights that will be acquired by the District. Trees will need to be located some distance away from the centerlines of the SLAR and SLA. Once a final alignment is selected, the District or its contractor will reach out to residents individually to discuss easement and restoration issues as they relate to individual properties.

How will access to roads, homes, emergency services, utilities, mail, other delivery services, garbage collection, etc. be impacted during construction?

In approximately 2006, the District constructed its 60” diameter Point of the Mountain Aqueduct that connects the Point of the Mountain Water Treatment Plant in Draper with the Little Cottonwood Water Treatment Plant in Cottonwood Heights. Some of that construction, like the SLAR, involved residential areas. The District learned a great deal about how to mitigate disruptions. The District anticipates preparing guidelines to help minimize access restrictions and interruptions of services and utilities. The District and its contractor will be coordinating with service providers, utilities and the city as planning continues and construction approaches.

The District and its contractor will make reasonable efforts to give residents reasonable advance notice of construction plans and schedules for their area, including plans for mitigating disruptions to access, services, and utilities. The details are likely to vary from area to area. Residents can help by keeping the District updated as their contact information may change.

How will the District handle existing retaining walls and address possible erosion during construction?

The District is aware of the need to manage potential erosion during construction. The final design documents will address specifics. Methods may include temporary shoring, erosion blankets, terracing, or some combination of these or other methods, in addition to restoration of existing improvements. These decisions are necessarily case by case. During the October 17, 2022, meeting, the District mentioned that some items of personal property might best be removed and replaced by homeowners.

How will the District address situations where property owners are unable to do this?

The District or its contractor will attempt to work with individual residents to find good solutions. During the October 17, 2022, meeting, the District’s Board reviewed preliminary surface restoration cost estimates.

Are the amounts discussed a sufficient budget?

During the October 17, 2022 meeting, the Board was given preliminary surface improvement restoration estimates relating to a possible SLAR alignment. The preliminary estimates were not intended to be a budget or cap and will likely differ from actual restoration costs.

How will the District handle any accidental damage to my property?

For any damage that may be caused by an accident, the District maintains a large liability insurance policy. The District always requires robust liability insurance to be maintained by its contractors. Any claim would be subject to the rules that would apply in the absence of this project. Typically, such a claim would be handled by the insurance company.

How will the SLAR affect the LCC?

The final SLAR alignment will take the nearby LCC into consideration. The District intends to minimize disruptions to the LCC and will coordinate with Salt Lake City to do so.

Will the District be coordinating with Cottonwood Heights?
Yes. The District has coordinated and will continue to coordinate with Cottonwood Heights City staff as to this project and City projects that may be related. The District is grateful for its very good working relationship with the City.
Did the District consider alternatives to laying a second, parallel pipe (the SLAR)?

Yes. For many years the District and its engineering consultants studied the replacement or rehabilitation of the SLA in anticipation of it reaching the end of its useful life. The District believes it considered all practicable options. Before the District reached a final decision as to the entire SLA, the need for a raw water pipe during the reconstruction of BCWTP accelerated the current project. The Cottonwoods Connection Project will address the need to replace or rehabilitate the SLA (Phase 3). It will serve the purpose of carrying Big Cottonwood Creek water to the LCWTP for treatment in Phase 1 during reconstruction of the BCWTP. Neither Salt Lake City nor the District were comfortable losing the Big Cottonwood Creek water supply during BCWTP reconstruction, particularly in this time of drought, and given other potential risks. The Cottonwoods Connection Project will also serve to carry untreated water for treatment at BCWTP in Phase 2 during anticipated future rehabilitation of LCWTP. Only a parallel pipe serves all three of these needs.

How did the District decide that the current project is more cost effective than adding pump stations for the existing SLA?

In evaluating how to replace or rehabilitate the SLA as it reaches the end of its useful life, the District and its engineering consultants evaluated the possibility of adding pump stations for the existing SLA as an alternative to laying a separate pipe. The District and its engineering consultants determined this alternative was not feasible. The current SLA cannot manage the pressure that would be needed to pump the desired flow. If the District were to slip-line the existing SLA to manage the increased pressure, several pump stations spread out along the alignment would be necessary. Because this alternative was not feasible, a cost analysis was not completed. In addition, this alternative would not solve the need to carry raw water from Big
Cottonwood Creek to the LCWTP for treatment during the reconstruction of the BCWTP. This is the purpose of Phase 1 of the Cottonwoods Connection Project.

Did the District consider other routes for the SLAR?

Yes. During the early planning phases of the Cottonwoods Connection Project, the District and its engineering consultants considered several routes or alignments. These options included having the SLAR located within Wasatch Boulevard. Certain alternative alignments, such as Wasatch Boulevard, were ruled out after careful consideration based on various factors, including ability to meet the goals of the project, cost, geohazards, utility congestion, and disruptions.

Did the District consider an alignment with the SLAR located in Wasatch Boulevard?
The District and its engineering consultants carefully considered Wasatch Boulevard as a possible alignment for the SLAR. There were several significant issues that led to eliminating Wasatch Boulevard as a viable option. These include geohazards, hydraulic considerations, failure to satisfy goals of the project, cost, and disruption of traffic. Each of these issues was given much consideration, but they can be summarized in very general terms as follows:

First, an alignment in Wasatch Boulevard would require the SLAR to cross, and lay on, parallel to, several significant fault lines. It is difficult and very expensive to address a large pipe crossing a fault line that is perpendicular or nearly perpendicular to the pipe, but as a practical matter it is not possible to address the risk to a pipe laying on or near a fault line that is parallel to the pipe or nearly so.

Second, the hydraulics of a Wasatch Boulevard alignment did not meet the needs of the Cottonwoods Connection project. Although this alignment would allow raw water to be pumped north to south, which it will do in Phase 1, the lift would be significantly higher. This alignment would require an additional pump station for Phase 2 when raw water will flow south to north. Pumping would also be necessary for Phase 3 when treated water will flow north to 3300 South and I-215. Water is heavy at approximately 8.4 pounds per gallon. The need for an additional pump station would add considerable design and construction cost, perpetual and significant energy cost, and perpetual pump station maintenance. It is not clear what parcels would need to be acquired for a pump station.

Third, a Wasatch Boulevard alignment would not meet one of the important goals of the Cottonwoods Connection project, that of backing up four turnouts on the SLA located between the LCWTP and Fort Union Boulevard. Having a backup for these turnouts would provide needed redundancy and resiliency. Because the Wasatch Boulevard alignment would have the SLAR located a considerable distance from the SLA turnouts, the SLAR could not serve this function without considerably more piping.

Fourth, construction in such a congested UDOT highway right of way adds cost and disruption. Those members of the public that would suffer disruption would be different from the property owners along the proposed alignment, but the District believes there would be more, not less, public disruption and inconvenience. That statement is not intended to minimize in the least the obvious disruption and inconvenience that will be caused by an alignment near the SLA.

The District has activated a public information team for this project. We welcome additional questions, comments, and requests for clarification. The project planning is an iterative process in its early stages, but we will do our reasonable best to give timely responses. All comments, questions, and related responses will be available to the District’s Board of Trustees and the Board will be involved in the responses where appropriate. Questions, comments, and requests for clarification may be submitted through the following means:

Hotline: 800-292-3557

Acronyms and Definitions
Acronyms Definitions
BCC Big Cottonwood Conduit
BCCr Big Cottonwood Creek
BCWTP Big Cottonwood Water Treatment Plant
BCPS Big Cottonwood Pump Station
CC Cottonwoods Connector
CC1 Cottonwoods Connector, Schedule 1
CC2 Cottonwoods Connector, Schedule 2
District Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy (see also, MWDSLS)
FO Fiber Optics
fps Feet per Second
Geohazard Geological hazards including seismic faults, areas of slope, instability, and liquefaction zones
Isolation Valve The ability to isolate sections of a pipeline or turnouts from a pipeline
LCA Lifecycle Cost Analysis
LCC Little Cottonwood Conduit
LCCr Little Cottonwood Creek
LCWTP Little Cottonwood Water Treatment Plant
LOS Level of Service
MG Million Gallons
mgd Million Gallons per Day
WDSLS Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy (see also, District)
O&M Operations and Maintenance
SLA Salt Lake Aqueduct
SLCDPU Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities
SLAR Salt Lake Aqueduct Replacement
Slipline The means of installing a smaller diameter pipeline inside of an existing buried pipeline.
TM Technical Memorandum
Turnouts Typically, used to distribute portions of the flow to service areas/regions