Utah's street floods in 1983 and the current water shortage are prime examples of the problems that will be alleviated by Little Dell Dam, said Army Corps of Engineers officers at groundbreaking ceremonies Monday.

Scores of water officials who had seen the Little Dell Dam project stalled for decades gathered for the long-awaited ceremony, held about a half-mile upstream from the dam site.The groundbreaking came 52 years after the first field engineering studies were conducted and about 35 years after project construction was to start.

In the original design, Little Dell Dam had an $8 million price tag and would have created an 8,000 acre-foot reservoir. The project now under construction has been enlarged to impound 20,500 acre-feet of water and carries an expected cost of $51.3 million at 1988 prices.

Designed as a flood control feature, Little Dell will store enough water for culinary use to serve almost 8,000 Salt Lake area households.

Garn and Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis both said there would have been no need to build sandbag dikes to channel flood waters along Salt Lake streets in 1983 if Little Dell had been in place. The dam also will buffer its aging companion, Mountain Dell Dam, which is situated about a mile and a half downstream from the Little Dell Dam site.