Options limited, expensive for Providence residents affected by Spring Creek flood

Providence Canyon is literally in John Hubbard’s backyard. When flood water breached the banks of Spring Creek the 1400 feet stretch of waterway not only left his farm underwater but filed the creek bed with 5 feet of gravel and rock, an estimated 1400 cubic square feet that could cover an acre. Now that Spring Creek has receded back to its pre flood levels, the estimated 100 affected residents can start the cleanup process, a process they discovered will be very expensive.Darin Rasmussen, Stream Alteration Specialist with the Utah Department of Natural Resources – Division of Water Rights, met with Providence residents Monday night to discuss their options to repair the flood damage to their property. And there weren’t many. “In general, land owners are responsible for what happens on the land,” he said. “The water belongs to the State of Utah. They issue water rights for the use and to use that water. I mean, you enjoy that and you bought that, but along with that amenity, you also bought the hazards and the responsibility to convey that through your property.””So far I’ve heard a story about how you shouldn’t build so close to a river, and then if you did there is some individual things you could do to protect your property,” said Sarah Bloom at Monday’s informational meeting. “Is the message here that we’re all sort of on our own?”Both FEMA and Providence City have denied financial aid to the effected private property owners and many had hoped the state would be the one to step in and lend a hand. However, that has not been the case. Rasmussen explained that the State of Utah had no legal responsibility to the flooded property owners. Even if they regulated and owned the water of the Spring Creek, the creek bed is their own.And although the state government will not pay to repair the damage, all efforts from private property owners to do so must be approved by them. Land within 30 feet of either side of the creek bank cannot be altered due to bank stability issues. Spring Creek, which is now twice as wide in some places cannot be restored to it’s original pre-flood proportions without a permit, a process that is costly – $100 for an individual to get permission to dredge the bottom and remove the gravel of 300 feet of the river, $2,000 for a commercial contractor – and takes a month alone to process the permit request.Rasmussen, who is a stream alteration specialist, explains they are cautious because whatever is done to a river affects both upstream and downstream. His motto was, “Leave a river alone and it will take care of itself.” However, this is not a viable option for proprietors with waterfront property. Because the creek bed has risen anywhere from a few feet to eight feet, the likelihood of a flood recurrence if no action is taken is very likely.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!