homepage logo

Mayors of Utah Valley: Water a sign of our roots and commitment to the future

By Mike Mendenhall - Special to the Daily Herald | Mar 18, 2023

Courtesy Spanish Fork City

Spanish Fork Mayor Mike Mendenhall.

Our snowpack levels are 210% of normal for the river basin that flows to Spanish Fork and south Utah County. The water equivalency in that snow is 26 inches! These are levels above the historic years of 1983 and 1984, and with more storms in the forecast, the weeks ahead could get interesting depending on how quickly we warm up. The plus side of the moisture is obvious — it will help deal with the current drought.

I’m the son and grandson of the last two River Commissioners of the Spanish Fork River. My father and grandfather have spent a combined 60 years measuring and delivering water to the cities, canal companies and farmers. They have forgotten more than I’ll ever know of the subject. They were great communicators and relationship managers. If someone has lived in the area for very long, they ask me if I’m the son of John, and grandson of Lynn. I’m proud of that heritage.

The examples of my father and grandfather are what I’ve leaned on over the last weeks and months as the city has coordinated with the county and landowners alike to prepare for high water in the spring. A few weeks ago, standing next to a farmer’s field, one of them remarked, “I can’t remember the last time we’ve had a county commissioner, mayor and staff all in a place at one time to discuss the river.”

Other south county mayors have told me that our former councilman, now County Commissioner, Brandon Gordon has been proactively reaching out to them, to let them know they are on standby to help. He’s not doing it for praise, he’s doing it for pragmatism.

At the Utah League of Cities and Towns, we emphasized working with stakeholders with Respect-Collaboration-Outcomes. I’m convinced that this framework will be the balance we’ll need to strike as we navigate the transition from a long winter to spring.

James Roh, Daily Herald file photo

The Spanish Fork River flows near 1550 West Street in Spanish Fork on Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

We need to respect private property owner’s rights, collaborate with agencies to mitigate flood risk, and together focus on the shared outcome of keeping people and property safe. The over used phrase is for us to the “meet the moment.” I’m confident we’ll do that in this State, county and Spanish Fork City — the home of pride and progress.

I’m humbled to serve as mayor of such a great city with amazing residents. It’s a blessing to be able to serve in this capacity, I don’t take it for granted. Please reach out anytime to let us know how we can do better.

John Mendenhall speaks to tour attendees about the history of the Strawberry Water Project at the historic location of the Current Creek cabin and out buildings in this undated photo.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)