WEBER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — Weber County is taking another step today to prevent flooding as river levels are expected to rise over the next week. They have used a canal to divert extra water.
A canal just east of 5500 W, in unincorporated Weber County, is now diverting 200 cubic feet of water per second from the Weber River. The diverted water is heading to the Great Salt Lake.
Drones took off into the air on Friday morning, their mission: monitor the flow of the canal, check for debris and blockages, and communicate with ground crews about any issues.
“It’s giving us great knowledge of what’s going on right now so they can make preparations and avoid problems,” explained Lt. Mark Horton. “Our drone team is almost working daily with emergency management.” Horton leads the Weber County Sheriff’s Office drone team which has reportedly been extremely busy this spring.
“This is really a 100-year event that we’re experiencing,” Commissioner Gage Froerer (R-Weber County) stated. “We’re about ready to experience.”
Froerer told ABC4 that since the devastating floods of 2011 and 2017, the county has been working hard to implement different mitigation strategies with a lot of focus on western Weber County. “We’ve cleared a lot of the streams out there, a lot of the drainages, replaced culverts so we’re in substantially better shape than we were two or three years ago,” Froerer said.
The head of the auxiliary canal that the county opened Friday morning is just east of 5500 W and is fed by the Weber River. This part of the river is miles downstream from where the Ogden and Weber Rivers meet. The canal runs through an area that was once the river’s natural flow. However, with time, many rivers change course; Weber River was not exempt. Heavy sediment built up and caused the Weber River to change course.
In a statement from Weber County Emergency Management, they said, “Right now, we are preparing for an increase in flows projected by the National Weather Service and Weber Basin Water Conservancy District. Our target amount today is 200 cubic feet per second. As flows in river increase, we will adjust as necessary.”
For all involved, the next few weeks are going to be busy in order to prevent flooding. Lt. Horton reiterated this by explaining how busy his team has been just this week. “Earlier in the week, we were actually checking snow levels on the east benches. So, we’re checking from the snowpack to the runoff and everything in between with our drone program,” Lt. Horton said.
The water running through the canal will make its way to the Great Salt Lake.