OGDEN — Emergency crews and water managers are closely watching the swollen Ogden River, which was surging at just below flood stage Wednesday.
But flood mitigation projects in recent years have made high-running periods much more manageable, said Ryan Perkins, Ogden City emergency manager.
“Ten years ago we would have been flooding by now,” Perkins said. “We have done a lot of work on that Ogden River so that we can handle this type of capacity.”
The river through Ogden Canyon was running at a depth of 7.3 feet Wednesday, just below the flood stage of 7.47, according to the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center.
Data provided by the center showed the Pineview Dam monitoring station as the only one in the basin above “action level,” requiring such close monitoring.
Perkins said the river slipped over its banks earlier this week near the 20th Street Pond. A business suffered minor damage and city crews helped shore up the trouble spot, he said.
“We have sandbags pre-positioned and ready to go, and we have delivered a few of them,” he said.
In Ogden Canyon, a few homes are being protected by sandbags distributed by Weber County crews, Perkins said.
Those spots always need to be buttressed in high-water years, he said.
Since the weekend, water managers have reported a slowing snowmelt, raising the possibility that the release rate from Pineview could be reduced soon.
“It’s still within our banks, so we can keep it coming as long as it’s coming down off the mountain,” Perkins said.
Weber County emergency services director Lance Peterson said Wednesday the river was running at 1,800 cubic feet per second in Ogden, considered to be “bank full.”
“We have new people that move in, they freak out, they think it’s flooding, but the fact is that the Ogden River can run at 1,600 cfs, and when it runs that high maybe four or five homes, we need to sandbag the back porch,” Peterson said.
“Just don’t be alarmed,” he said. “The river channel is built to handle 1,800 cfs.”
Peterson said Causey Dam will spill over by Thursday night, which will add 200 to 300 cfs to the flow of the South Fork of the Ogden River, which will also put that section at bank full.
The Weber River, meanwhile, reached a seasonal high flow Sunday but has declined some since then, Peterson said.
Perkins said the flooding issue is minor at this point compared to the danger of people falling into one of the rivers.
“Our greatest risk right now is just the speed of the river and how much water we have,” Perkins said. “The message I’m trying to push out is river safety. Children need to be supervised along the river. Keep track of your kids and pets.”