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Utah County communities prepare for ‘imminent' flooding

By Sam Penrod  |  Posted May 23rd, 2011 @ 6:05pm

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GENOLA — A lot has changed in Santaquin and Genola since the floods of 1983. New homes have been built, old ditches have been filled in, and now water is flowing in areas that have people very worried — especially since the worst is likely yet to come.

Over the weekend, water flowing from an irrigation ditch in Genola began to disappear into the ground.

"Nobody knows where the water has been going," said Genola resident Andra Stowe. "We have watched it going down these holes for days. It's under our ground somewhere, and I'm afraid we're sitting on JELLO by now. It's terrifying."

On Friday, the ditch was cut into and water began flowing into an old wash that hasn't seen water in decades.

"I don't know who to be mad at," said Genola resident Chris Johnson. "They come on my property and breach that ditch without as much as a phone call."

Crews put in this culvert under the road over the weekend, but now water is flowing downhill, and people living below, in Genola, are preparing for high water.

"When we get some 80-, 90-degree days it's not out of the realm of possibility of 50 second-feet of water. That 30-inch pipe isn't going to carry it," Johnson said.

The water is flowing from an irrigation reservoir in Santaquin. Water managers say they emptied the reservoir in January knowing they would need more water storage. But now the reservoir is full, and property owners getting water now are upset — especially those who suffered flood damage in 1983.

"It needs to be managed. They need to either put a canal into the lake and get rid of it instead of running it through people's basements and our farm," said Genola resident Mike Fowers. "We don't want the water."

For now, residents say the imminent flooding, is helping to bring the community together.

"I feel like the people in the town, the neighbors, are coming together in a way I've not seen in years," Stowe said.

The irrigation company insists it has been trying for years to get support from the towns, the county, and property owners to work on a long-term solution. They hope this situation will now motivate everyone to join together and fix the problem and not wait for the next time it floods.



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