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Park City tries to control what it can to prevent flooding

Empire Creek in Old Town on Tuesday.
Parker Malatesta
Empire Creek in Old Town on Tuesday.

The potential for flooding in Park City depends on many factors - some can be controlled and some can’t. So residents are urged to take precautions.

Park City Emergency Manager Mike McComb said the city took a long, close look at the local water system after the historic runoff year of 1983.

“The city went through and completed a comprehensive overhaul of all of the drainage ditches and storm drains throughout the area," McComb said. "Took a couple years, found that some of those avenues were blocked up to 90% with debris and branches and all the rest. Did a complete overhaul of all of those, and in the process, identified up to 27 key trouble spots throughout the city.”

McComb said city crews patrol those trouble spots two to four times daily for issues during flood season.

Public works director Troy Dayley said the creation of the city’s stormwater division in 2016 allowed them to get the right equipment to maintain the quality of local pipes.

“We started around 2017; it took us 3.5 years to go through our whole system and clean the pipes," Dayley said. "We have not been able to really stress test the system since we’ve cleaned everything. We’re pretty confident that things are going to flow really well. Although it does matter how fast the snow melts off the mountain sides, and what we’re seeing right now at this lower elevation snow starting to disappear, and we’re not adding to it anymore, is definitely a good sign.”

Temperatures in Park City were in the 60s Tuesday, which Dayley said is healthy for the snow weight on roofs. Several homes in the area have collapsed due to the heavy snow load in recent weeks.

McComb said Park City benefits from being at the top of the runoff chain, and people can expect what he calls “nuisance flooding.”

“This is not homes washing away," he said. "This is yards getting flooded and potentially streets, and maybe a sump pump fails and a basement fills, or starts to get some water in it, but it’s not kind of the destructive potential that we can see in other areas of the country.”

Flood hazards in 84060 are considered to be the areas around the Empire, Silver and McLeod creeks. McComb said people should keep an eye on conditions and to call the public works department at (435) 615-5301 if they see a problem developing in any city drains.

He also recommends residents check their insurance for flood coverage, because any needed policy changes likely won’t take effect for at least 30 days.

Dayley added there’s another unique factor to the flood risk this spring.

“Last fall, if those that remember, the leaves hung on to the trees well late into the year," he said. "They didn’t fall, and then when they did fall, it was a result of the snow. Those leaves haven’t been picked up and so they’re still buried under the snow. And I suspect, as this snow melts back, those leaves are going to make their way down into people’s ditches and in their gutters and their grates in front of some people’s yards. And we would ask that everybody do their part and remove the leaves.”

The city has a sandbag pick-up station at the Public Works building on Iron Horse Dr. Residents and businesses in the 84060 zip code can claim up to 25 filled bags. Unfilled bags and sand are also available. People can also submit requests by calling the sandbag hotline at (435) 615-5463, and leaving their name, address and time of pickup.

McComb said they are working on organizing a volunteer help day for those who may struggle to move a full sandbag, which weighs around 40 pounds.

People can sign up to be notified of emergencies and important community information by heading to parkcityalerts.org

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