Washington City flooding; resident asks who’s going to fix the city’s mess?

Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park submerged under water, Washington, Utah, Sept. 9, 2014 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — With another occurrence of rain-inundated streets and homes this month, many people contend that it’s not just the rain that Washington City has to thank for its flooding tendencies – that the city’s infrastructure, landscape, and drainage system all play their parts – leaving many Washington City residents wanting to know who is going to fix the city’s mess so floods don’t continue to flow into their homes at every heavy downpour.

Paul Jensen, a Washington City resident whose home backs up to the corner of Buena Vista Boulevard and Graham Manor, said that over the last two years the flooding situation has become ridiculous. He said he believes the new Perry Homes development, called Perry Landing, is what has caused the area to flood because of the lack of storm drains to accommodate the rain flow.

(The new development) turned the desert into just a big flood plain now,” Jensen said, “and it all runs down here. It does not have time to soak in.”

(report continues below)

Video courtesy of Paul Jensen, made Sept. 9, 2014

Jensen said the waters used to flow onto the other side of the highway, Interstate 15, through a 6-foot storm drain before the Buena Vista road was built. But, he said, those drains don’t get used anymore.

“They’re full of tumble weeds because there’s no way for (the water) to get across Buena Vista,” Jensen said. Motioning to areas around his home, he added: “So it all comes down and then they divert it into this vacant property here that belongs to the city – the city does this. And then it all floods out … it comes up and over and it comes down into my property here. It literally goes around my house on both sides.”

Aside from the multiple times the waters have flooded out his landscape, Jensen said, the inside of his home flooded once this year and twice last year and he had to tear out all of his carpet and replace it.

“The city didn’t do anything about it,” he said. “They told me that they were going to take care of it. They said in their City Council meeting last year that the problem was taken care of – that it would never happen again and I thought ‘how could it be taken care of? They didn’t do a thing up here.’ They didn’t address the issue. They didn’t fix anything. They did nothing except pile up dirt and every time they do that, they put piles and piles of dirt and rock along the side of the road and the first storm comes along and wipes it right out; it’s gone.”

Jensen said he talked to the Perry Homes’ engineer last year who told him that they had the problem all taken care of with a containment pound. But Jensen said: “It’s just not doing it.”

To add insult to injury, Jensen said, he went out and filled all his sandbags last year. He said:

Had them all sandbagged around there to keep the water because it comes over the curb – the crown of the street is higher than the curb down here next to the side of my house and so the water comes over the curb, over the sidewalk, and then it comes down in my property – and that’s since they built this new road here. So I put sandbags around there. The city came and removed all my sandbags and now I’m flooded again. They didn’t say anything to me. I just came home one day and some guy was loading them into a dump truck and hauled them off.

According to Washington City’s response to the flooding the city saw on Aug. 18, “these rain events are acts of God.”

The city’s drainage system “worked flawlessly,” until it overflowed, said Mike Shaw, Washington public works director, after heavy rainfall also caused flooding in August.

Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said in an August interview: “There’s no system that can handle that amount of water. We have the proper infrastructure, but a lot of it just got overwhelmed. It was too much (rain) too soon.”

The city has been improving its drainage system since last summer’s flooding, and will continue to do so, Neilson said.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

Updated 7:39 a.m. to include Paul Jensen video.

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  • Tyler September 10, 2014 at 6:49 am

    You plaster urban concrete and asphalt on an already baked, non-absorbent desert floor, you get flooding almost every time. It’s not rocket science.

  • Christine S September 10, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I’m so sick and tired of hearing people whine and moan about this. I have lived in St. George for over 20 years and I have never seen or heard of this amount of rains and problems. We have had so much rain, flooding and extra moisture it is no wonder the landscape can’t take it. I actually had standing water in my backyard yesterday for the first time in 10 years and am I blaming the city or the home builders? NO! I am blaming the freaking rain and the ground becoming too saturated to take any more!!! 200 East in St George has never flooded, to my memory, but it has twice now and only after a problem occurs, can you fix it or make plans to fix it. The city cannot predict the future and they are doing the best they can.
    Instead of whining and crying and woe-is-me-ing, you should be more pro-active and attend meetings about the problem and help come up with solutions. If you can’t DO something nice, then don’t SAY anything at all!

    • bobber September 10, 2014 at 11:43 am

      It’s all Obama’s fault!! Now where’s my FEMA check?!

    • Tracie September 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      Come down to my street (also downtown). We’ve been given promises for 20 years that they’d fix our flooding issue, which happens EVERY time it rains, and we are still waiting. So maybe you haven’t seen it before, but we see it frequently, as a direct result of the City not fixing our bad drain at the end of our block.

    • Paul Jensen September 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Christine, you know what they say about Karma. Next time we flood I can only hope that she steps up and takes a huge bite out of your butt. If all I had was ‘standing water’ in my back yard I’d be happy with that. Being flooded by the cities bad planning is a totally different issue. We’ve lived here 14 years and not once did we get flooded. Not when it rained for seven days straight in Jan ’05 and homes were being swallowed up by the Santa Clara. Not in 2010 either. Believe it. If you pave the desert and not add any storm drains the water has to go someplace fast. Sadly that place is all the homes down hill from where the paving without storm drains is located. And I have offered a solution to the city and been proactive toward the problem. However, if seems to have fallen on deaf and lazy ears.

  • T September 10, 2014 at 7:50 am

    The city hides behind “this will take millions to upgrade our infrastructure to account for 50 or 100 year events like this”, when in fact, they simply didn’t require a storm drain system to be installed in the new Perry Landing subdivision. Paul is absolutely correct in this article. That is what is causing the flooding of his home and those down on Main Street. It simple to follow the path of the water sent done from that subdivision that comes down and overwhelms the existing infrastructure, flooding out homes like Paul’s and others down Main Street. Developers and property owners are required to handle their own drainage. I would ask the city why they let Perry Landing move forward without a storm drain system when every other new development has one and what the city and/or developer is going to do about it.

    • bobber September 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

      It’s about who you know and how worthy you are…

  • getting flooded September 10, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Mike shaw probably had his workers take the sandbags to his house so he could protect it from flooding

  • Richard September 10, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Since Washington City has one public golf course maybe they should quit paying out so much money to people to work there and use that money to hire a civil engineer!

    Or maybe paying a “leisure services director” total comp of 128,040, 8 thousand more then St George for the same position! The sheeple of Washington CIty might want to wake up and smell reality for a change!

  • Amber September 10, 2014 at 9:21 am

    We have had similar problems after construction in our neighborhood. It seems like it changed the water path and now it comes too close to our house. During the flooding a couple of years ago we had sand delivered and filled our own bags and then one day we came home and the city had come and taken them all! I’ve also had a problem with the city saying they’ll come fix a problem and then never doing a thing.

  • SAGEMOON September 10, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Um, isn’t taking off with someone’s sandbags considered theft? The guy tried to be proactive and protect his property and a city worker stole his sand bags!

  • tc rider September 10, 2014 at 9:50 am

    the city with the real estate developers are the ones that will keep saying this only happens once every 100 years, this is the third major water event in a approx one year period.
    This needs a lot more attention and the city and county need to be held accountable for approving these developments that will sell lots that are often designed and approved below street grade ( this means the poor suckers that own properties below these properties are stuck with all the water coming off of these lots because the developers and city officials have dollar signs in their eyes.

  • southernutresi September 10, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Christine S, apparently you need to learn to read better. Saint George is not spelled w-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n. They are talking about Washington, were there is regular flooding in only moderate rain. Having lived out there for a year before I moved into Saint George, flooding is a common occurrence. Of course 200 East in SAINT GEORGE didn’t flood. Washington is built on top of fields and valleys and marshes. It’s the worst place for a community because its prime for flooding. There’s so many farms and clearings no proper water drainage system could be executed without costing much much more than what the city of Washington is willing to pay. Unlike 200 East which is on semi flat, downward slopping land and has a drainage system. Maybe instead of being “proactive” and telling people in WASHINGTON CITY to stop crying and whining you should maybe re-read the article and realize your righteous indignation was not only ignorant on your part but uncalled for. The city of Washington needs to put it’s big girl panties on and deal with this problem.

  • Koolaid September 10, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Could the poor engineering and drainage problem be a result of electing those who are worthy or family rather than those who are qualified? As the saying “You get what you paid for….”, here you may have “you get what you elected…” Blame yourself for the problems.

  • bobber September 10, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Maybe it’s only those that are unworthy that get flooded. Report to your bishop immediately for a worthiness interview…

  • Tracie September 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    “The city has the proper infrastructure?” What a joke! I’ve had my house for 23 years, and they’ve never fixed the inadequate drainage at the end of our street (downtown), despite numerous promises that it would happen. Every time it rains, even a “normal” amount, our street floods and we have to block off our driveways and walkways to lessen the flooding. Thank goodness I don’t have a basement.

    Get a clue City of St. George and solve some of the real problems for a change.

    • Tracie September 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Argh. Sorry, I didn’t see that it was Washington. (D’oh) Still, St. George has similar issues they won’t fix.

  • Who cares September 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    The people you idiots. It’s called community service!

  • dougbert September 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I would put in my own drainage system to divert it back to their street. Or something to protect your house. Yes, seek help with it, but as they have done nothing, they will do nothing. You are on your own pal

  • My Evil Twin September 11, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    As a non-Washington City resident, I hope I may still offer a suggestion. When the politicians of Washington City come up for re-election, THROW THEM OUT. Each and every one of them. Get people in there who have the intestinal fortitude to fire the non-responsive city employes, and hire folks who realize that they work FOR the citizens of Washington.
    It isn’t rocket science, but you folks need to work on your memories, so you don’t forget just how little help these people give you when there are problems. Of course come election time, the incumbent incompetents will promise you what you want to hear. They will be lying. Get rid of them!

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