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North Ogden park submerged as snowmelt flows; flooding risk persists

Flooding starts to trend downward in some areas

By Tim Vandenack, Rob Nielsen - | May 20, 2023

Photo supplied, City of North Ogden

Orton Park in North Ogden, shown in this picture from Friday, May 19, 2023, has flooded due to an excess amount of snowmelt. It is designed to capture such overflow, though, and no nearby homes are flooding as a result, officials say.

NORTH OGDEN — A new lake has taken shape in the middle of North Ogden — temporarily — as an overabundance of snowmelt winds its way from the mountain tops toward the Great Salt Lake.

Orton Park “has filled to capacity” and excess water was flowing into adjacent streets on Friday, said David Espinoza, North Ogden’s assistant city manager. A photo on North Ogden’s Facebook page showed a bucolic body of water — the flooded park — with the rising sun peeking over the mountains to the east.

“Runoff from snowpack melting is where this water is coming from, particularly Coldwater Canyon snowmelt,” Espinoza said.

The park, though, is designed to serve as a water detention basin in such circumstances and the water will eventually drain. At the same time, the excess accumulation hasn’t led to wet homes in the adjacent neighborhood.

“The homes are not in danger of flooding,” said Phil Swanson, a member of the North Ogden City Council. Rather, overflow from the park is flowing into an adjacent street, as designed, and draining into the city’s stormwater system.

Mayor Neal Berube said one younger city resident suggested populating the detention basin with fish. Officials, though, will probably just let it drain so the space can be used for soccer and other such pursuits, as in years past.

“We have filled the basin on a few occasions the last several years, but have only hit the overflow one other time I know of in the last 20 years,” Espinoza said. He doesn’t anticipate having to close any roads due to the situation.

Elsewhere, flooding is on a downward trend in some areas of the Wasatch Front.

Eli Johnson, Weber County Emergency Management coordinator, told the Standard-Examiner on Friday that flood potential on the Ogden River is peaking in some areas.

“We’re kind of peaked on the south fork ,” he said. “The runoff there has hit its high. The next few weeks we’ll be at flood stage, but the next few weeks, everyday the peak flow is trending lower and lower. We’re anticipating we’ll be out of the flood stage on the south fork by the end of the month.”

He added the north fork is seeing the same trend as well, though he said there will be some short-term bumps in flows as temperatures rise more next week.

From there, Johnson said there’s still flooding risks rising elsewhere.

“We’re just kind of waiting to see what happens at the reservoirs and anticipate we’ll start to see higher flows starting to pick up in the western part of the county as they start releasing water from the reservoirs,” he said. “We’re kind of working on getting things cleaned up in the upper valley and starting to transition equipment from the upper valley as we trend that down and getting it repositioned out west.”

He said, so far, there haven’t been many notable instances of damage beyond last week’s partial washout of a section of state Route 39 in Weber Canyon and a landslide in Ogden Valley.

“The landslide … on Viking Drive, that’s still an issue that we’re monitoring,” he said. “We still have water running through that area, so there’s a potential that we may see some additional movement there. The engineers have been keeping a close eye on that, making sure that what’s getting washed isn’t necessarily starting to trigger another movement in the hillside.”

As for when floodwaters ebb for the season, there will be tens of thousands of sandbags throughout the region.

According to Johnson, the best thing to do is to just leave them.

“Deal with them as best you can,” he said. “A lot of the folks, especially along the rivers and stuff, we just generally ask them to try and leave them in place. For the most part, cut the bags open, leave the dirt in place, overseed it with grass seed and over time it’ll help build the bank up. The grass will establish a root system and over time they raise the level of the bank.”

He said the bags naturally deteriorate over time.

“We just basically use locally sourced sand out of the gravel pits. There’s no special (chemical) treatments that are placed on them at all,” he said. “The sand bags are designed to just naturally mulch up. It’s one of the reasons we’re always hesitant to start putting them out so early — once they start getting exposed to UV light and water and everything like that, they begin to break down.”


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