05 June 2008

It's a desert, right? Why worry about too much water?

Should we worry about too much water?

As you may or may not know, Tooele County sits in the high desert of western Utah. One of our biggest, if not THE biggest development issue here is water, or rather, the lack of it.

 Occasionally, Mother Nature likes to remind us of what things could be like.

Yesterday was one of those days. We are having one of those once every few years downpours. Over the last 24 hours, we've received nearly 3 inches of rain in the area. That may not be much to many of you that see such things regularly, but it's been devastating to many of us, though some of the reasons are strictly man made. Let me give you a couple of examples of how this can be.

 Any of you that saw the local news this morning, may have seen the story of several townhomes with flooded basements on the northwest side of Tooele. It was reported that it was "due to the high amount of rain". While I agree it wouldn't have occurred without the water, it was only one of several factors, and the only one not controlled by man. These homes are "downstream" from a bowling alley with several acres of asphalt parking lot that focuses all of it's drainage into a small 3 foot opening in the curb that empties into the storm drain. The back fence of the affected homes backs up to the curb. Upstream of the bowling alley, is a new, large subdivision. It also has many storm drains in the curbs. However, when they are full, they seem to drain toward the bowling alley parking lot.

 Last night they were full. Today the basements are.

 Hindsite is 20/20 of course and I bet those home owners wish the folks upstream, as well as the city, had been a little more concious of what could happen, rather than what usually happens.

 My second example is one that's a bit more applicable to the average home owner, as he's caused the problem himself!

I was asked to preview a vacant home in Grantsville to take pictures for a Real Estate from client out of state.

When I got there at 9am this morning, I noticed a great deal of settlement around the front walk and driveway. In thebasement, I found water in most of the rooms. Again, I thought it must be "due to the high amount of rain". As I looked closer, it appeared to be coming from one window well at the back of the home. When I got to the rear of the home however, I saw the reason, and the homeowner had too. There was a gorgeous, long, wide concrete patio that had been poured right against the house. It had settled, so now any water was directed right into this window well.

 His solution? A sump pump buried in the window well. Definitely a cheaper fix than building the underside of the patio up properly. Problem is, he's moved out, and there is no power to the pump. Even if there was, the drain hose ran out onto the patio I mentioned, and right back into the window! All of which was made worse by the fact that the whole rear half of the roof was guttered, and the downspout empties onto (wait for it!), the beautiful concrete patio!

So, why am I rambling on about this? A couple of reasons. 

The 2 home owners I mentioned were affected with similar problems from the same storm. One had no control over the damage, the second one caused his own damage. He's trying to sell his home at the moment. How well do you think it shows with a flooded basement, and now a potential (I already saw some from previous water) mold issue? The moral of this whole long story is that if as home owners, we take a little initiative, combine it with some good old fashioned common sense (and an understanding of how gravity works with water!) and some personal responsibility, not only can we protect ourself from Mother Nature, we can keep from devastating others the way the first home owner was.

 I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone move into a new home and immediately start his new landscaping by changing the grade of the lot. After all, Tooele County is in the desert, right? What harm can it do?

Why worry about too much water ?   

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