On Aug. 29 a storm cell in the northwest corner of Herriman dumped three-quarters of an inch of rain and hail in less than 45 minutes. The results were devastating for one Herriman home, and caused some water and debris damage to the city cemetery and other homes.
The storm was called a 100-year storm, meaning that such a storm only happens in the area about every 100 years. However, another “100-year storm” occurred just last year on Sept. 14. That storm overflowed Kennecott retention ponds, flooded Herriman High School and the Timbergate apartments.
According to Assistant City Manager Gordon Haight, storm drains in Herriman are supposed to handle 10-year storms, while the streets are set up to handle 100-year storms. And, according to city officials, they are doing exactly that. However, the undeveloped farms to the west of the city do not have storm drains or roads. So the impact points where the water from those fields hits developed land can be devastating.
City officials are currently developing a plan to address the more common occurrence of these storms.
The first step of the plan to alleviate these flood problems is working with the land owners to reshape some parts of their land, creating berms and retention ponds. Some land owners have been more than willing to allow these changes to their land, and one property owner has already begun the contouring.
UPD Sgt. Chris Christensen’s basement was filled floor to ceiling with mud, water and debris from the Aug. 29 flood. All of the home’s utilities, such as the furnace and water heater, were filled and destroyed.
While the family has a long road to go to repair the home, city officials, neighbors and even Home Depot in Riverton stepped up to help. Volunteers were there for hours each day pumping and shoveling. Other neighbors brought drinks and food to keep them nourished while they worked.
“I want to express my sincere appreciation to our residents, city staff, fire and police who answered the call to duty and assisted those besieged by the recent flooding. The acts of kindness and understanding amid this tragedy were deeply touching. These unfortunate experiences, as difficult as they may be, help to define our character and moral fiber, individually and as a community,” Mayor Carmen Freeman said.
Currently, as storm water hits the city’s storm drains, the debris it carries with it can plug the intake. This causes retention ponds to overflow. This is what caused the cemetery to flood.
The clean-up effort for the cemetery had to wait a few days because the land was too saturated to handle the clean-up effort without causing damage to the ground. Damage to the cemetery was minimal, no grave markers were lost or damaged, and there were no reports of lost personal decorations.
While several land owners have been working with the city, last holdout property owner Dave Bastian is a little more concerned about any changes to his land, since he is currently farming it. Last year, as an emergency effort, the city dug a trench and put up a silt fence along 6000 West from 11800 South for 200 to 300 feet south. However, shortly afterward Bastian asked the city to return his property to its original state.
In the overall solution, second-step efforts would include (if needed) sensors that would alert the city immediately when storm drains are receiving too much water and/or debris. City officials may also consider remote valve controls to save time in managing the amount of water that flows into and out of the drain systems.
These options come with a large price tag and may require a storm water fee to be implemented in the city. This would be a new fee for Herriman but one that is common in other cities in the valley. There are only four cities in the county that do not currently have this fee: Alta, Bluffdale, Holladay and Herriman.