‘High hazard’ 40-year-old debris basins pose threat to residents

Warner Draw debris basin | Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Three debris basins located near the Southern Parkway will be rebuilt to reduce the risk of flooding to hundreds of homes and businesses.

Map of three Washington County debris basins which will be rebuilt | Map courtesy of Natural Resources Conservation Service, St. George News

Warner Draw, Gypusm Wash and Stucki debris basins are operated and maintained by Washington City; all three will be rehabilitated because the dams do not meet current standards and pose a threat to life and property.

The basins are intended to catch runoff during flood events and slowly release that water downstream in a controlled way, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service water resources coordinator Norm Evenstad said.

The dams were built in 1975 for flood protection and sediment retention. However, they were built to “moderate” standards to protect farmland.

Due to development in the area, they are now classified as “high hazard” structures because of the potential for residents to lose their lives should the normally dry debris basins fail in a flood event.

The projects will be funded by the Washington County Flood Control Authority, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Utah Division of Water Resources.

The Utah Board of Water Resources approved funding grants for the Warner Draw and Stucki basins at a regular board meeting held Wednesday in St. George.

The division will pay 31.5 percent of the projects’ costs, the NRCS will fund 65 percent and the Washington County Flood Authority will pay 3.5 percent.

Map of Warner Draw debris basin potential flood area | Image courtesy of Utah Division of Water Rights, St. George News

“These are high-hazard dams that are eligible for the grant money,” Assistant State Engineer for Dam Safety David Marble said.

The Washington County Flood Control Authority was formed in September 2011; it provides a pool of funding for flood control measures along the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers and for regional flood control facilities such as debris and detention basins.

The Flood Control Authority is composed of Washington County and the cities of St. George, Washington and Santa Clara, all of which are participating, voting members.

The flood authority is funded by a $1.50 charge on each stormwater account in the three cities, including residential and business property. Washington County contributes administrative assistance.

Read more: Flood Control Authority offers vital interlocal agreement

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • [email protected] March 24, 2017 at 8:23 am

    What is ironic about this article is, the information was publicly available with modest due diligence…….
    The city allowed these developers to subdivide the land, and build lots of single family homes in the path of the Gypsum Wash berm. Perhaps the construction of the most recent section of Southern Parkway will mitigate some of the potential debris flow exposure.
    The homeowner’s complaints about lack of simple pocket parks in their subdivisions will pale in comparison to a flood, and the resulting property damages.
    There will be no recourse against Washington City. You guys are on your own…….

  • Rob83 March 29, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    This reminded me of the huge flood we had in 2005 and I just have to say what a wonderful job the city does to keep us citizens safe. Every part of where that flood touched has been fixed and preventative measures taken in case of another flood. Also, taking on this project in advance before something happens, that is awesome and I am really grateful to live here.

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