Learning from past floods, Tooele has made preparations for future water

Mar 16, 2023, 1:08 PM | Updated: 1:56 pm

TOOELE, Utah — Rainwater was moving quickly down the curbs off 70 South in Tooele. However, most people who live along this road know it’s nothing compared to what’s possible.

“It’ll just run right down this road. This is the flood road,” Kent Fife said. He laughs that he just might have ocean front property.

“I didn’t realize it when we bought the place,” Fife said with another laugh.

Locals said 700 South is known as the flood road because of the higher 12-inch curbs. During high runoff years, the city uses this road as one of its streets to control the flow of water away from homes.

Tooele City said past floods have prepared it for future floods. (Mark Less/KSL TV) Tooele City said past floods have prepared it for future floods. (Mark Less/KSL TV) Tooele City said past floods have prepared it for future floods. (Mark Less/KSL TV) Tooele City said past floods have prepared it for future floods. (Mark Less/KSL TV) Tooele City said past floods have prepared it for future floods. (Mark Less/KSL TV) Tooele City said past floods have prepared it for future floods. (Mark Less/KSL TV)

“This road was designated a flood way in the city,” Paul Hansen, Tooele City engineer said.

He said it’s one of the lessons learned after the massive 1983 floods, as well as keeping deep pits at the end of that road to collect flood water. Since then, and from future situations, Tooele has done a lot to improve its infrastructure when it comes to flooding.

“We’re trying to do what we can to protect the public,” Hansen said.

Another effort is requiring developers to dig and improve flood channels. That’s what is being done on the north end of the city with a new development where the land has flooded before. The developer is digging longer and deeper channels with culverts and overflows to try and keep any potential flood water away from homes.

“We partnered with Tooele County to do a regional stormwater analysis out of the two major canyons,” Hansen said. “We adopted a special flood hazard map, and we used existing topography and we found without those channel improvements, none of that property could’ve been developed.”

Even with everything Tooele City has done through the years, it’s difficult to ignore the amount of snow still in the mountains.

“We’re not scared. We just want to be prepared,” said Nick Wall, who is Tooele City’s manager of emergency management. The city had set up four locations where residents can obtain sandbags and sand for those sandbags.

Some of the locations have already been used to the point where the city had to bring in another load of sand.

“We just wanted to be proactive and get ahead of the situation and make sure we have our residents prepared,” Wall said.

Fife said he’s prepared.

He already placed a few sandbags near his driveway to keep water flowing down the flood road. He’s just hoping it’s all for nothing.

“I’m ready. I just hope it doesn’t melt too quickly,” he said. “If it doesn’t, I think we are going to be all right.”

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Learning from past floods, Tooele has made preparations for future water