Fruit Heights to rebuild clogged pipe to keep residents' basements dry

Nov 22 2012 - 11:44pm

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FRUIT HEIGHTS -- Fruit Heights is moving forward to fix some recent land drain issues that have caused flooding in several residents' basements.

Nearly 20 homes along Country Road, off of U.S. 89, have been affected by the mineral content in the ground water that has been building up in the drain over time, plugging the pipe up in some areas, City Engineer Brandon Jones said.

The city council recently approved a motion to begin rebuilding the 1,500 feet of line causing the problems.

"It wasn't necessarily a surprise," Jones said. "We've known there was a problem there, and it appears that it gets progressively worse (each year)."

The city has tried getting the mineral content out, but determined that some parts of the drain were beyond what could be done without replacing the pipe.

The city council has been at odds in past meetings, trying to determine if it was the city's responsibility to pay for the repairs.

The land drain was installed back in the 1970s, but at one point, the city didn't realize it was there, Mayor Todd Stevenson said. That only added to the confusion.

"There has been some historical question about whether it was the neighbors' or the city's responsibility," Stevenson said.

After discussing the matter with the city attorney, Fruit Heights decided to move forward with the project. Given that the city has been doing repairs on the drain for several years, the city attorney felt it was necessary to move forward with replacing it.

Jones said land drains are not common. Fruit Heights has them in only a few sections of the city, where developers wanted to build in high groundwater areas but still wanted to include basements with the homes.

Land drains were then built to collect the water before it gets to the basement.

One of the biggest issues the city faced before agreeing to move forward was cost. The total cost for the project is budgeted at $225,972.61, although the city is looking at various ways to reduce costs.

Currently, the city does not have a budget category for land drain repairs. As a result of this new project, the city plans to implement land drain fees for residents soon.

Stevenson said:

"We'll create its own enterprise fund budget category that will be self-sustaining, which will be easier to document, and end up not raising property taxes."

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