Flood risk minimal
March 27, 2012
One positive outcome of this winter’s sparse snowpack is that no spring flooding is expected, a welcome change from last year when rivers crested their banks and wreaked havoc in Kamas and Coalville for weeks.
Summit County Public Works director Kevin Callahan said that, so far, everything indicates that there is a lot of additional capacity in the county’s rivers and flooding is unlikely.
"The only water problem we have experienced so far is that when the temperatures were fluctuating between cold and warm, the ice would melt but the ground wasn’t thawed so some people had flooded basements and garages," he said. "If we had gotten a lot of snow this winter, we would have had issues because our reservoirs are still very full due to last year’s heavy snowfall."
Callahan added that in the fall, it was predicted that northern Utah would have a normal snow season, causing the county to stock up on sandbags and prepare for more spring floods.
"We thought we better be prepared so we began looking at the trouble spots from last year and getting ready. But as it turns out, we had a below normal year and expect no issues," he said.
Even if additional precipitation does fall, Callahan said numerous projects were completed over the summer to help mitigate flooding in the future.
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"We probably did 20 projects along the Weber River including armoring portions of the bank and removing debris so we expect fewer problems," he said.
At a recent meeting with Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer, Callahan learned that the focus this year will be on fire prevention.
"Bryce said that there have already been some small grass fires," Callahan said. "So we may be looking at fire restrictions being in place earlier this year and we’ll be closely monitoring that from now until October."
According to Callahan, one year of light precipitation isn’t enough to cause water shortages, but if the next two or three winters are also dry, then the wells may get low.
"Right now though, we have plenty of water and luckily it isn’t overflowing from our rivers," he said.