Several Salt Lake residents who live near the Jordan River told park and water officials Thursday their west-side neighborhoods are ignored and demanded that the river be cleaned.
But the residents were told they are the ones who must take the initiative by organizing clean-up projects and lobbying elected officials for funds."We can't keep up with all the junk that's thrown in the river. There's no way. That's what the people who live along the river have to do," said Bard Ferrin, Jordan State Park superintendent.
Ferrin said that between June and September, three employees spend a half day each week cleaning debris from the river. Until 1982, 20 employees worked on cleaning the river, but lack of funding has cut back upkeep and developments.
Residents complained that their area is particularly ignored and asked for their "fair share" of a clean river.
"Why is it the west-side neighborhoods always have the garbage?" said Michael Ortega, community organizer of the Salt Lake Citizens Congress. "You go north and you go south and it's much cleaner."
But Ferrin denied that more effort is spent cleaning one area over another. "It's exactly the same care," he said.
Steve Jensen, water quality planning coordinator of the Salt Lake City/County Health Department, told the gathering of about 50 residents that while the river is not safe for swimming, it is safe for fish and other aquatic life.
"We still have a bacteria problem on the lower part of the river, though. We don't know why," he said, adding that storm drains and illegal dumping are causing some of those problems.