The Jordan River has shifted its course over the last century, creeping away from the boundary line between Davis and Salt Lake counties that was established in the 1850s.
So Davis County has very little legal responsibility for dredging the river's channel, the county commissioners told a group of duck club representatives Wednesday.Members of the Jordan Fur and Reclamation Club have asked the county to dredge about 800 feet of the Jordan River between two dams where the river empties into the Great Salt Lake.
The channel is plugged, they said, and runoff next spring will back up the channel and flood their dikes and gun club facilities in the marshland at the lake's edge. The club is just recovering from the damage it suffered when the lake rose after the 1983-84 runoff years.
But county surveyor Max Elliott said he reviewed the request and survey maps and his research shows the Jordan's present course is mostly through Salt Lake County.
The middle of the riverbed was designated the boundary between the two counties in the 1850s. Since then, the river has gradually shifted to the point where it is 90 percent in Salt Lake and 10 percent in Davis, Elliott said, while the original boundary line has remained in place.
Davis public works director Sid Smith toured the area and said he agrees the channel needs dredging, but tightened federal regulations on wetland preservation make the proj-ect more difficult than in the past.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, charged with wetland preservation, will issue a permit for the dredging if it doesn't impact the adjacent marshes and wetlands, Smith said.
If the spoil, or material dredged from the river bottom, is dumped on the existing spoil pile next to the channel, the Corps will issue the permit and encourage the dredging, Smith told the commissioners.
But his on-site inspection of the area turned up some problems, Smith said. The existing spoil pile isn't broad enough to accept more dredged material without spreading out, damaging the adjacent wetlands.
And in some areas along the river, there is no spoil pile to add onto, Smith said.
Club members reminded the commission that their group has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years, rebuilding dikes and canals and restoring the wetlands to sustain duck populations.
And in 1983, the club cut some of its dikes at the request of flood control officials to allow floodwater to drain into the lake, they said, which resulted in severe flooding of the club's facilities.
The commissioners were sympathetic to the club's plight but took no action Wednesday, agreeing to take the problem and request under advisement.