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Layton homes flooded with groundwater after homeowners say developers were given 'green light' to build

Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 20:04:32-05

LAYTON, Utah — When they first started building in East Layton, homeowners said their developers were told by geologists, after a geotechnical survey, it was safe to build.

Almost two years later, some are seeing groundwater flood their property.

Days after Valentine's Day, Shaun Cavanaugh’s newly finished basement was ruined, first from the flood and second from the new sump pump that was being installed.

“The water was just coming out of the seam where the foundation and concrete meet,” said Cavanaugh.

There was so much water, Cavanaugh said, the folks installing the new sump pump had to pump out water, just so they could install the pump.

“There was nothing we could do to stop it, it just kept coming from the ground,” said Cavanaugh.

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The Cavanaugh’s had waited to finish construction on their basement of the new home for a year out of a precaution.
Yet groundwater issues became a problem and because the water seeped in from the foundation and not the window wells, Cavanaugh’s flood insurance wouldn’t cover the cost—the sump pump alone was five grand.

Down the street, Cavanaugh’s neighbors deal with the runoff from other houses.

Tyler Carpenter said whether it’s sprinklers, snowfall or rainwater, the neighborhood is designed to have the water flow through the yards and down the hill.

“It’s great except there’s no plan for where the water needs to go,” said Carpenter.

The water seeps into the Carpenter’s property and out onto the sidewalk.

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“When I run the lawnmower over this in the summertime, it almost sinks down it’s so wet,” said Carpenter.

Both Cavanaugh and Carpenter have gone to Layton City seeking help.

The city used to require outdoor drains in every yard, until a state law changed the code.

“If the developer has an opinion from the geotechnical engineer, then a land-drain system is not needed and the city cannot require it,” said Steven Garside a spokesman for Layton City.

The one size fits all state code, however, does not work for Layton according to Representative Stephen Handy who has represented Layton at the Utah State Capitol for 11 years.

“We need to look at this and ask, can we set some standards that will provide protection for the homeowners, yet will allow developers to move forward in a responsible and reasonable way,” said Handy.

Especially because it’s not just Cavanaugh and Carpenter seeing groundwater flood their basement and cause their property to sink.

Christy Livingston messaged FOX 13 with images of her basement that has flooded five times.

“I have two sump pumps, a perimeter drain and drains in my window wells, and it just barely flooded again," wrote Livingston.

Something Livingston said has been going on for more than a year.

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As for Cavanaugh, he has reached out to his developer Richmond American Homes.

“They’ve been good to work with and want to help us out,” said Cavanuagh.

The company has even offered to pay for the sump pump and Cavanaugh said they are planning to help install a new drain in the backyard.

“The biggest thing that I’m frustrated with is the state law,” said Cavanaugh.

A law, Handy hopes to change in the next legislative session, giving the city more control.