Ogden’s rising water concerns

Signs advising visitors to stay back from the rushing, high waters of the Ogden River.

Unprecedented snowfall during the 2022-23 winter season has also led to worries regarding flooding, as the snow on the mountains begins to move down into the cities. As the weather begins to warm up, the city of Ogden has begun to keep an eye out for water.

With Salt Lake City receiving 87 inches of snow this winter, residents and city officials have begun to make strides towards flood prevention and safety.

“The most significant issue we have experienced this year was out at Serge Simmons Ball Park, where the Weber River was running high enough to come into the ball fields and dog park areas,” Mike McBride, the marketing and communications manager for the city of Ogden, said. We had a FEMA emergency there roughly 10 years ago, where the river completely rerouted itself and caused significant damage to Fort Buenaventura and the ball fields.”

The biggest safety concerns regarding the extra water are the Ogden and Weber Rivers. Rising water is causing issues for the land around it and for the animals and people who come across it.

“While we are looking good now, we are not quite in the clear with our creeks as they are the main route for significant west facing runoff,” McBride said. “Our approach has been to send supplies and resources when they are needed, so that we do not run out supplying ‘just in case’ scenarios.”.

Ogden officials and water experts are emphasizing the importance of preparedness and caution.

Weber State University professor and director of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Marek Matyjasik, said the underground water table will continue to rise until later in the summer. He also urges those living near flowing water to take caution by storing sandbags and regularly check their property for leaks to prevent further damage.

Caution when it comes to being near these overflowing bodies of water is incredibly important. A celebration of life was held in early May for Libby Stimpson, a woman who was swept away by the Weber River while walking her dogs. The city of Ogden is urging people to stay far away from the rivers to avoid being swept up and to prevent another situation like this from occurring.

“We want people to stay safe and stay away from river banks,” McBride said. “Keep children away from the rivers and swift moving water. Do not ever leave them unsupervised near the rivers. Keep pets on a leash. If something happens, call 911.”

The Ogden River, though still swift and dangerous, underwent a restoration project from 2006-2012 which improved its ability to handle situations like these. Structures were added to channel water from one place to another and new pools were implemented. About 1.1 miles of river bank were worked on during this restoration.

“The Ogden River has held up beautifully, largely due to the work during the Ogden River Restoration Project,” McBride said. “The river and banks are doing exactly what they were designed to do.”