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Groundwater refers to the water that fills the spaces and cracks in underground soil and rock formations. The level of groundwater is determined by several factors, including rainfall, snowmelt, and the permeability of the soil and rock.
Groundwater levels are dependent on many factors, regional rainfall being one. Groundwater is specifically determined by soil types although groundwater is typically higher towards lakes and other bodies of water. The type of soils in the area will determine groundwater levels in specific sites. Some soils are less dense and allow water to flow through and also allows water to occupy the same space. Soils that are denser will act as a dam and keep the water from flowing through and create areas where there are high water tables just upstream.
In Vineyard, land drains are required for homes that have basements unless the developer can demonstrate, through a professional engineer's assessment of the soil and state reports, that the historical water table is below the basement level. The building code stipulates that the soil surrounding the home must be graded away from the structure before issuing the Certificate of Occupancy.
In farming areas, the soils are typically designed with generally higher risk due to the abundance of air in the soil, which results in more water retention. In contrast, soils used for housing and buildings are specifically engineered to be denser and prevent water from pooling. This water is designed to divert to the street to prevent sitting water. Nevertheless, the landscaping and grading performed by homeowners can modify the designed water flow direction, leading water to accumulate in basement areas and openings. In these circumstances, groundwater and water, in general, will follow the path of least resistance. To address this issue, the City Building Official requires the installation of proper drainage systems and well-designed basement openings, allowing water to drain away before it builds up within the openings. If these systems were not placed, which may occur on work done without a building permit, then water would not have an alternate route to take away from the home. Regularly timed maintenance is necessary for these systems. If left unattended, they can become clogged. This would prevent the diversion of water away from the home.
Concerned residents or those preparing their properties may call Vineyard’s Building Official or Public Works Engineer at 801-226-1929. They would be happy to address individual concerns and specific questions about their properties.
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Vineyard City is not in a typical floodplain, based off of FEMA maps: FEMA Flood Map Service Center
As Vineyard City is not in a typical floodplain, based off of FEMA maps, it's important to understand the factors that can cause this to happen. The water table is the level at which the ground is saturated with water, and it can fluctuate depending on several factors.
One factor that can cause the water table to rise is heavy rainfall or snowmelt. This can increase the amount of water that seeps into the ground and raise the water table level. Additionally, if the soil in the area is particularly permeable or the groundwater recharge rate is high, the water table may be more prone to rising.
If the water table rises too high, it can cause problems for homeowners, including seepage into basements, wet or saturated soil in yards, and damage to building foundations.
To prevent these issues, it may be necessary to take steps to manage the water table around the home. This can include installing drainage systems to redirect water away from homes and properties, and waterproofing basements and foundations to prevent seepage.
Many homes in Vineyard City have drains around their home put in during the initial construction per city code. However, these drains must be maintained like any other part of their homes.
In some cases, it may also be possible to lower the water table by installing a drainage well or a sump pump system. However, this can be a complex and costly process, and it's important to work with a qualified professional to ensure that it's done safely and effectively.
Most flooding in Utah County occurs when water tables get too high and water enters the basement through a window or door opening.
While Utah Building Code has requirements to ensure that licensed contractors provide for proper waterproofing of foundations and basements, there are instances where work may have been done without a permit.
If a resident feels that they are prone to flooding or would like to take the precaution to get flood insurance, they can work with their insurance companies to first determine if their home is in a listed floodplain, as insurance companies have access to the same type of maps FEMA uses. Insurance companies don’t directly provide flood insurance; rather, flood insurance is provided by FEMA through the insurance companies.
Typical flooding occurs when water tables get too high and water enters the basement. Many insurance claims due to flooding are from water entering the basement from yards which have been graded with a negative slope, meaning the surface water drains towards the home and basement. This is also considered flooding.
The maps that the state provides for ground water tables are very general and provide information for those who may have irrigation wells. Prior to homes being built, the developer or contractor is required to submit a geotechnical report to the city building department to provide information such as soil types and groundwater levels. This determines the elevation of the finished floor of the home, and to the extent of how low a basement may be built. Newer homes are less likely to have issues with groundwater entering the home due to these types of state and city regulations.
The FEMA maps are available to the public and can accessed using the following web site:
FEMA Flood Map Service Center
Based on the current and the historical levels of the lake, as well as utilizing the FEMA maps referenced in the previous question, the City expects the likelihood of flooding from Utah Lake will be very low. The areas by Utah Lake are considered wetlands, so this season’s snowmelt into the lake will help recharge and revitalize the natural elements of Utah Lake. Additionally, Vineyard City homes are at a considerably higher elevation from Utah Lake, reducing the likelihood of flooding from the lake into our homes. However, as we all know, nature is unpredictable and even though we plan for and engineer for all variables that we are able to see, the variables that we can’t see may arise. If that ever happens, then the City, County, and State Emergency Management Response has plans and resources that will ensure the safety of the residents. Our City’s Public Works staff consists of seasoned members who have lived in Utah County for many generations, been in some of Utah’s historic natural events, and responded to natural disasters from around the world to include earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding.
The city is part of the state Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program adhering to the state’s regulations of operations and maintenance of infrastructure that gathers and moves stormwater runoff from urban areas. It consists of a network of channels, pipes, and other structures designed to manage stormwater and prevent pollution from entering the state's waterways. Part of the Vineyard City’s MS4 program is performing regular maintenance and inspection of the city’s stormwater system.
In addition, the city has a land drain system, which is designed to mitigate groundwater around certain homes with basements which may be within an area with higher seasonal groundwater.
If Vineyard City experiences a flood event, the stormwater structures found in many of the city’s detention systems, which are designed to manage the flow and quality of water in Utah Lake, can be opened up to allow a greater flow of water out of the detention pond. This is done in accordance with state agencies to ensure that this practice is done with oversight.
Vineyard bolstered its number of sandbags this year, with about 3,000 available for public use. The city has identified multiple sand filling stations located within Vineyard that utilize the sand procured for various construction projects, including the citywide water line upgrade initiative. Vineyard City also partners with surrounding cities, Utah County, and the State to ensure that sandbags which are not needed in one location can be shipped to those cities in need. As of the end of March, the state reported they have 1.5 million sandbags. Additionally, Vineyard City has a list of contractors able to provide sandbags to help ensure a timely response to residents. If the need for sandbag distribution arises, Vineyard City will make announcements on its social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) and through it’s emergency alert system, Everbridge. Sign up for Everbridge notifications by visiting alerts.utahcounty.gov.
Vineyard City requires land drains for homes with a basement unless the developer shows that the historical water table is below the basements based on professional engineers' testing of the soils and the state's reports. Additionally, the building code requires that the soil around the home is graded away from the home prior to issuing the Certificate of Occupancy.
However, grading from landscaping by the homeowner may change the direction of water flow. Once water is directed towards a basement’s areas and openings, water always takes the "route of least resistance". The City Building Official requires that basement openings are constructed with proper drainage systems to allow water to escape before building up into the opening. If these systems were not placed, which may occur if the work was done without a building permit, or clogged (as they require maintenance like any other part of a house), then water would not have an alternate route to take away from the home.
Concerned residents may call Vineyard City at 801-226-1929 and either the Building Official or Public Works Engineer would be happy to address individual concerns and specific questions.
The city's ground water is historically low. Ground water varies based on soil types. Soils from farming areas are generally higher due to these soils designed with more air to retain water. Soils used for housing and buildings are designed to be denser where water is not able to "sit". That rain water is then designed to be diverted to the street drains.
The city has several detention basins and maintains the land drain system once they are in the public streets. The city crews have already started the cleanup of debris left at our storm drains from the winter season and will continue to maintain and inspect the systems to ensure they are operating properly.
Roads are designed with subbase soils to allow for water to pass through and with consideration to the freeze/thaw cycles to prevent and reduce damage to the asphalt layer. With the majority of roadway erosion being from water intrusion through the pavement surface, proper maintenance and management of drainage systems and underlying soil conditions is crucial to prevent erosion and collapse.
The city is part of the state Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program adhering to the state’s regulations of operations and maintenance of infrastructure that gathers and moves stormwater runoff from urban areas. It consists of a network of channels, pipes, and other structures designed to manage stormwater and prevent pollution from entering the state's waterways.
Septic tanks can be affected by potential flooding events. If a septic tank is located in an area that is prone to flooding, it may become inundated with water, which can cause a number of problems. To mitigate the impact of flooding on septic tanks, it's important to ensure that septic systems are properly designed and installed, and that they are located in areas that are less prone to flooding. Regular maintenance and inspection of septic tanks can also help to identify and address any issues before they become more serious.
Vineyard City has very few septic tanks. Septic tanks are regulated by the State and Health Department. Additionally, the Vineyard City is working towards converting private owner’s septic tanks to a city maintained sewer system.
More information regarding septic tanks can be found at: https://deq.utah.gov/water-quality/onsite-wastewater-program.
Poorly maintained pipes that are inundated with rising water can cause damage to homes, particularly if the water seeps into the foundation or basement. Water that accumulates in the soil surrounding a home can exert hydrostatic pressure on the foundation walls, which can lead to cracks and other forms of damage. In addition, if water enters the home through cracks or other openings in the foundation or basement walls, it can damage interior finishes, furniture, and other personal belongings.
To mitigate the impact on homes during flooding events from potential poor pipes, the City conducted a survey of all the residential sewer pipes and identified areas to be addressed. Less than one percent of the pipes’ systems are considered to need remediation and the city has already started the process of fixing them. Regarding the city's storm drain pipes, these pipes are built using high density plastic and concrete and have a life span of about 100+ years. The city's older storm drain pipes are located in the old Geneva site and will be replaced as development there occurs.
Additionally, the Utah Building Code has requirements for licensed contractors regarding waterproofing foundations and installation and protection of resident’s pipes. In addition, homeowners can take steps to minimize the impact of flooding on their homes, such as performing regular maintenance of utilities and water barriers of windows and doors at the basement or foundation.
The city’s Streets and Stormwater team is very experienced, with each member having over 18 years experience in the field. Additionally the city's Water and Sewer team is fully staffed with state certified and trained operators, with the team's manager having over 20 years of experience. Additionally, the manager sits on the TSSD board and is well aware of sewer concerns that may be facing the city and the region. The Public Works Director is a Professional Engineer and a seasoned emergency responder to infrastructure and structural failures due to natural disasters, including flooding.
In addition, the city staff has implemented a City Emergency Management Plan to include an Evacuation Plan which is available to Vineyard City residents at its city’s website.
Emergency Management Plan
Vineyard City Evacuation Map
If residents have concerns of their private plumbing within their house, they may call the City's Building Department at 801-226-1929
Road pavement can suffer significant damage due to flooding. When water accumulates on the surface of the pavement, it can cause erosion and deterioration of the pavement material, leading to potholes, cracks, and other forms of damage.
To mitigate the impact of flooding on road pavement, the city takes proactive steps to ensure that proper drainage systems are in place to allow water to flow away from the pavement surface. Additionally, regular maintenance and repair of pavement surfaces can help to prevent small issues from becoming more serious and costly problems.
The City has been conducting pavement coatings in areas around the city each year. The city will be conducting a city wide assessment of road pavement to determine the causes of deterioration and ensure that its money is spent maintaining those roadways deteriorating "earlier."
Trees can be negatively impacted by excessively wet soil conditions, as the lack of oxygen in saturated soil can lead to root suffocation and other issues. This is because tree roots need oxygen to survive, and when soil becomes overly saturated, the air pockets in the soil that contain oxygen can become filled with water.
However, it's important to note that not all trees are equally sensitive to wet soil conditions, and some species are better adapted to waterlogged soils than others. Additionally, the severity of the impact on trees can depend on factors such as the duration and frequency of the wet soil conditions, as well as the overall health and vigor of the tree.
The City maintains a Certified Arborist who is passionate about trees. Ensuring the health of trees is a priority to the city and we conduct regular health check-ups on the city's trees.
Additionally, we are planning to replace trees which are not meant for Utah's climate. Replacing trees that will not survive or cause issues to the soils is a priority as we move towards a sustainable city. If residents have questions about their private trees on their property, they may contact the Public Works Department at 801-226-1929.
ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recharge) is an advanced topic regarding water and the ecosystem in general. Aquifer storage and recharge (ASR) is a process used to increase the amount of water that can be stored in underground aquifers for later use. It involves pumping water into an aquifer during times of excess water supply, such as during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, and then extracting the water when it is needed during times of drought or other water shortages.
The city's water is provided by Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD). The wells and groundwater in Vineyard are operated by CUWCD. There are specific requirements to Aquifer Recharging. Vineyard City's location by Utah Lake allows for the city to put its cleaned stormwater directly into Utah Lake, allowing for a healthy ecosystem and CUWCD to draw water from the lake, all under the authority of the State of Utah.
The city is working with the developers of the Vineyard Downtown to incorporate Low Impact Development (LID) systems to the stormwater systems to reduce the impact of the city's northern storm drain system.
Low Impact Development (LID) is an approach to land development and stormwater management that emphasizes the use of natural systems and practices to minimize the environmental impacts of development. LID seeks to mimic natural processes by using techniques such as permeable pavement, rain gardens, and green roofs to capture and infiltrate stormwater runoff on-site.
The goal of LID is to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that is generated by development, thereby reducing the impact of development on downstream water quality and quantity. By using natural systems and practices to manage stormwater on-site, LID can also help to recharge groundwater supplies, reduce erosion and sedimentation, and protect aquatic habitats.
LID represents a sustainable and environmentally-friendly approach to land development and stormwater management, minimizing the environmental impacts of development, promoting the use of natural systems, helping to protect our water resources and creating more livable and resilient communities.