Flood-escape planning and determining which home-owners should carry flood insurance just got easier for Kaysville and Fruit Heights residents.
The two cities are in the process of getting their 30-year-old topographical maps updated.
Used mainly to help with the city's master plan, the new maps will provide better tools to plan for flood protection.
"The information is definitely useful to us as a city, especially now that we will have maps with greater accuracy and better details," said Fruit Heights City Engineer Brandon Jones.
"We've done a lot of projects over the last 20 years that have improved flooding situations, but sometimes a storm will hit and there was an oversight, then you have to fix the problem," said Jones.
"Having this new information helps us to plan a lot better for those things, especially when new development comes."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency originally studied the area more than 30 years ago and produced maps for the flood areas currently being used by Fruit Heights and Kaysville.
FEMA has recently received a small amount of funding, which it is now using to help cities restudy certain areas.
The consulting engineering firm doing the study for FEMA encouraged Fruit Heights and Kaysville to obtain topographical information, which will possibly help the cities receive additional funding from the project, according to Jones.
As a result of FEMA's request, Kaysville city elected to get a topographical map of its city completed, and discovered that a third of Fruit Heights would be captured in the photos taken from the aircraft.
Kaysville then asked Fruit Heights officials if they would be interested in paying to have the rest of their city included in the photography fly over.
At a cost of only $5,000 versus the $18,000 it would have cost to have their entire city mapped separately, Fruit Heights readily agreed.
Aero-Graphics recently completed the acquisition phase with their Cessna turbo charged 206, equipped with a 20-inch hole for their laser technology, which records data at a rate of 150,000 pulses per second.
The company currently is taking the virtual city data it acquired from the flyover and stripping away the buildings and vegetation to leave all of the elevation data.
"Our unique photos are able to penetrate through vegetation and see drainage channels that meander through the city, which is very important for cities to prevent catastrophic damage to homes," said Casey Francis, vice president of Aero-Graphics based out of Salt Lake City.
Originally, Kaysville city was planning on only mapping out a few areas, but discovered that by expanding to the whole city, the cost was reduced a fraction.
"This will impact residents in the short term, because it will reduce costs of flood insurance for quite a few residents," said Ryan Judd, GIS administrator for Kaysville city.
"Any other future planning, such as water, sewer and storm drain models, will utilize these new maps and be able to make better predictions for the future."
The new topographical maps for Kaysville and Fruit Heights should be in place in the next month.
Retrieving the photos via airplane takes about three hours. Processing the raw data and converting it into useable data takes from 30 to 45 days.