by Becky GINOS
WOODS CROSS—For the last couple of years, homeowners living in the Farm Meadows subdivision in Woods Cross have been battling mysterious cracks in their driveways, foundation and even the sheet rock in the walls – some of it extensive.
The city has done multiple tests to try and figure out what is causing the problem. Meanwhile, many residents have been making the repairs themselves. At a recent city council meeting, the Project Team working on a study of the area gave a report on their findings and suggested recommendations.
“There are about 50 homes that we’re aware of with structural damage,” said city engineer Greg Seegmiller. “It started about March 2015 but may have been even before then.”
Seegmiller said the investigation showed the soil in the area consisted predominantly of clay and organic-rich layers. “There has been a disappearance of ground water resulting in a significant drop of about 23 feet or more across the site since 1986,” he said. “The organic layers collapse without water.”
According to the report, lowering of the shallow water table may be a result of several factors, none of which can be specifically attributed to the Farm Meadows subdivision:
• Regional drought
• Loss of recharge areas due to urban development
• Municipal pumping of the deeper groundwater aquifer
“Some distress observed in the residential dwellings could be associated with inadequate site preparation, site grading, fill placement or other construction activities,” the report reads. “This study did not investigate individual lots or specific construction methods or activities.”
Seegmiller outlined the Project Team’s recommendations:
• Entities who own, operate and maintain the various underground utilities (power, water, gas, etc.) should inspect their utilities on a regular basis to ensure safe service.
• Underpinning of foundations and leveling of structures as the primary mitigation to bring homes back to whole.
• Any mitigation or underpinning for any part of a structure should be done on the entire structure.
“People who do lift their homes should do a geotechnical investigation to get a feel for what’s going on first,” he said.
There was some discussion that some residents have already lifted portions of their homes but Seegmiller said they would need to lift the rest of the home to adequately address the problem.
“We applied for a grant but we didn’t get it,” said City Administrator Gary Uresk. “Through our RDA we might be able to come up with money to address homes that are most severely impacted. There would probably be an application process with scoring. We want to try and stabilize it and also help financially to give people hope that there’s help out there.”