Flooding in Saratoga Springs
Although it is uncommon, the City of Saratoga Springs can be susceptible to flooding problems due to melting snow. Other potential flooding could come from a dramatic rises in Utah Lake or water that may come from West Canyon through the Tickville Wash, but these events are rare and we frequently have plenty of advance notice of rapid snow melt.
Far more common and hazardous to our City are the cloudburst-type thunderstorms that occur. The purpose of this information is to alert you to the possibilities of flooding, suggest preventative ways to avoid flooding and to let you know what the City is doing to reduce the risk of flooding to each of you.
The Lake Mountain and Cedar Pass regions of northern Utah County are susceptible to heavy thunderstorms that sometimes occur with little warning and can deposit a large amount of water in a very short time. These events cause torrential downpours that fill channels and low spots throughout the City in a flash flood manner. You may notice as you travel throughout the City, particularly east of Lake Mountain, that there are many channels and streams that have been cut into the ground. These channels are normally dry except during storms and occasional spring runoff. The only way to prevent property damage or loss of life when floodwaters fill these areas is to prepare ahead of time.
What Citizens Can Do
During and after all major storms, City personnel, including the City Engineer, inspects all areas that experience flood damage and heavy water flow. We notice that in every case of flooding, that there are also very site-specific contributing factors common in these instances:
- First, flooding occurs mostly in cases where yards (front, sides, and rear) have not yet been finished. Also, in neighborhoods where grass and finished yards are installed, there is little or no flooding. Installing your grass and completing any other planting that you are going to do will greatly increase your soil's capacity to retain water and reduce your risk of flooding from surface waters.
- Second, we notice that most homes that received damage to basement areas have not completed proper grading away from the house or have soils that have collapsed creating low spots near homes. Upon completion of any new house, grading away from the structure should be completed at a 5% grade or more. The City inspects this grade at the time any home is completed and a certificate of occupancy is issued; however, the City has no control over activities that property owners engage in that might alter this grade after occupying their homes. We also do not inspect or test for soils compaction around homes. It's essential that if your soils have settled since you moved in, then you should make repairs or add materials that once again achieve the proper grading away from your home.
- Third, there are many new homes located within active construction sites where surface water may tend to impact homes and property more than in finished neighborhoods. If you live in one of these areas, please review your surroundings and take measures that may assist in diverting water away from your home even if those measures are temporary until other homes and yards are completed.
- Finally, many residents, especially in hillside areas, have graded their properties in such a way that their runoff is accumulating on adjacent properties. You should be aware that common law dictates that each property owner is responsible for their own storm water runoff. You should not be allowing runoff from your property to cause damage to neighbors' property. We encourage you to be courteous and aware of how your property slopes and of how it may impact others, particularly adjacent properties.
What the City is Doing to Prevent Flooding
The City is also taking steps to prevent flooding. We recently completed a storm drainage study of the entire geographic area of the City. This study indicates areas more susceptible to flood damage and makes recommendations concerning the correct locations of detention ponds, storm channels and culvert facilities. The City will be installing these improvements over the next 10 years, as needed, to accommodate growth in existing and future neighborhoods. The City has also had the practice of trying to raise awareness of issues like flooding so that you can take whatever steps you need to ensure maximum protection.
The City has already made or required developers to make improvements to install storm drain ponds, underground drain systems, and open storm channels leading to Utah Lake. The City also has several regional park facilities planned of over twenty (20) acres in size that will collect storm water during large storms. These facilities are all designed to divert and collect water away from residential areas.
National Flood Insurance Program
The City also participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. This allows us to stay current with federal programs and technical assistance and helps obtain reduced insurance rates for all residents who purchase flood insurance.
Concerns or Questions
If you have any concerns or questions you may contact the City at 766-9793 or the City Engineer at 801-571-9414.