LAYTON, Utah (ABC4) – Residents of new homes in an East Layton subdivision are experiencing flooding due to what they call “negligence on the part of the city, developer, and builders.” 

Courtesy: Erica Carpenter petition

Residents tell ABC4 the Vistas at Eastgate, located in East Layton have basements flooding, rock walls collapsing, landscaping washing away, and grass so soggy it can’t be walked on. 

A petition shared with ABC4 by resident Erica Carpenter states, “the drainage issues caused by routine summer watering, rain, and runoff from snowmelt, be mitigated through the installation of outdoor drains, or whatever other means are necessary to prevent further issues. The excessive amount of water has caused damage to multiple properties and has the potential to cause more damage in the future to the properties currently impacted.”

Shaun Cavanaugh is a resident at the Vistas at East Gate neighborhood in East Layton.

Cavanaugh tells ABC4 he bought his home in October 2019. “During the construction, we had concerns of the drainage because there were several occasions that our lot had flooded and temporary sump pumps had to be put in to pump out the water,” he tells ABC4. 

He says he brought up his concerns with the builder, Richmond American Homes, and the site supervisor several times and was told: “all would be fine especially once landscaping was installed.” 

Shortly after moving in, Cavanaugh says his backyard had major drainage issues. 

“My wife, several neighbors, and I had a sit-down meeting with Layton City in the spring of 2020 to bring up these concerns. During this meeting after mentioning, we had water/drainage issues one of the city engineers laughed at me and said there was no water in the ground,” Cavanaugh shares with ABC4. He says he requested the city come out and look at the property due to the standing water. He says Layton City did send officials out who agreed there were issues. 

Cavanaugh says city officials told them backyard landscaping would fix the flooding. 

“We believed them and went about our business. Spring of 2020 homeowners began installing landscaping and once again, we were flooded because of sprinkler runoff. I contacted the city and builder again and was told there was nothing they could do,” Cavanaugh adds. 

In June of 2020, Cavanaugh decided to finish his basement. A task he purposely pushed off until after the first winter and spring in his new home in an effort to know things would remain dry. 

Cavanaugh says he completely finished his basement on Saturday, January 30, 2021. Two weeks later on Sunday, February 14, 2021, his basement flooded. 

SLIDESHOW: Photos of damages in Cavanaugh’s home

“It was hearting breaking for my entire family.”

After the flood, Cavanaugh had a perimeter drain and sump pump installed. After installation, the pump continually pumped water out of the basement for several hours, he shares. “The pump has been installed for a month now and it still turns on several times a day and pumps out a good amount of water,” Cavanaugh adds. 

Cavanaugh says he feels if the drains would have been installed his flooding issues could have been avoided.  

“I wish the city had taken this more seriously when we met with them a year ago. Since that meeting, we have had at least three homes flooded. Several more homes have had to put in sump pumps in the window wells to keep their basements from flooding.”

Steve Garside, Public Information Officer for Layton City, tells ABC4 Layton City aligns their building regulations with other cities by requiring a “footing drain” around homes to take care of groundwater. 

Garside says the area in the development community lobbied the legislature for a change in the law. Now, if a developer brings in a letter from a geotechnical engineer saying land drains or footing drains aren’t necessary, the city cannot require them.

This is why these new residents are experiencing flooding, Garside shares. 

Garside says he believes the geotechnical engineer for the East Layton development said land drains were not necessary because they possibly only took groundwater into consideration. 

“They were primarily looking for groundwater and it appears from all the information we see, this is the perched water,” he says of the water causing the flooding. 

According to Garside, “groundwater, is water that comes up from an existing layer of water” can change with any moisture. “Perched water is where the surface water percolates down until it hits a layer that does not allow the water to go through immediately,” Garside adds.

Many of the homes in the East Layton subdivision are new. When flooding problems were first discovered last summer, the city told residents they might be overwatering. When they stopped watering, the problem lessened, Garside tells ABC4. 

Now many months later the snow is melting, hitting the layer of clay and entering the home because it has nowhere else to go.

Landscaping can “mitigate” the flooding issues, Garside shares. He says making sure rain gutters are away from the home can help. 

Usually, developers try to have swells align with property lines, so water slopes away from your home. The swells would allow water to flow away from the home and into storm drains, “that would be the perfect design,” Garside adds.

Though a perfect design, in theory, it is not always possible depending on where you live. Garside says homeowners changing landscaping can also cause perch water to collect.

Garside says this situation is “frustrating” for the city and residents. 

He says the best way to remedy this issue is for residents to work with the developers and geotechnical engineers of the area. When residents have issues they often come to the city, but this issue is not a city issue, Garside shares. 

Garside says the city has reached out to the developer and have been told by residents of the area the developer “has been responsive.”

ABC4 has reached out to the builders for comment and have not heard back but calls were not immediately retuned. Information will be updated as it becomes available.

See the “Install proper drainage at Vistas at Eastgate” petition.