City seeks grant to stabilize blue clay slide area, purchase homes for demolition

Santa Clara City may soon receive a $1.6 million grant to stabilize a hillside which has been sliding for decades, Santa Clara, Utah, Dec. 23, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – City officials are anxiously waiting to find out if they will receive a $1.6 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to purchase properties and stabilize a hillside that has destroyed homes and is threatening others.

This is the second year in a row the city has applied for a FEMA hazard mitigation grant, and officials are hopeful.

“They’re pretty close to telling us if we’re awarded the grant or not, but I can’t give you a time,” Santa Clara City Manager Ed Dickie said. “I don’t know what pretty close – what that means – if that’s a few months or a few weeks but we keep passing each test, basically.”

The hillside near Truman Drive on the edge of Santa Clara Heights has been sliding for decades; the first instability was noticed by the Utah Geological Survey in 1981 and the first major landslide happened in 1992.


Read more: Santa Clara Heights landslide: 30 years of problems, no solution in sight


The cause of the sliding hillside is a combination of blue clay and underground water, Dickie said. Numerous attempts to find the source of the groundwater have been unsuccessful.

Repeated efforts have also been made to stabilize the hillside. In 1993 large cement shafts were installed above the slide area, behind the affected homes on Cinnamon Circle, in an effort to isolate the slope.

The shafts extended between 20 and 40 feet into the shale bedrock under the hill, but in 2002, the hill moved again, forcing residents to vacate two homes and displacing most of the cement shafts.

If the grant is awarded, officials will use the funds to purchase three homes and two empty lots and try again to stabilize the hillside. This time, plans are to build a berm at the base of the hill and grade the top of the hill to alleviate pressure on the slope.

“And hopefully, it will help it so it doesn’t slide anymore,” Dickie said.

The homes being considered for purchase are those considered to be at highest risk. If purchased, the homes would be demolished and the area would become open space.

“No one would be able to buy it, purchase or build on those lots,” Dickie said. “Ever.”

Hopefully, the hillside mitigation efforts will stop the slide and make property in the area safer and prevent future problems.

“So that’s what we hope to do, is stop this so it doesn’t affect any other property owners.”

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Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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