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Snowmelt overwhelms small town sewage system, causes flooding

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 31, 2023

BEAR RIVER CITY, Utah — The hum of water pumps has been a nonstop noise for Bear River City as the town of 900 does everything it can to prevent water from entering homes.

“It’s been a constant lake. We’ve had times when we go out in the boots and it’s been deeper than the boots,” said homeowner Shelby Palmer.

Back in January, Palmer and her family jokingly kayaked in the floodwaters in their backyard, unaware the worst was yet to come.

Her home is the lowest spot on the block, so neighbors have to pump their water into Palmer’s yard in order to get it out into the ditch.

“We were pumping about 8,000 gallons of water in that first 24 to 48 hours,” she said.

Councilmember Jared Holmgren said there’s not a basement in Bear River that doesn’t have water.

“This is just kind of ongoing, ongoing, and ongoing,” he said.

Holmgren said the town sewage system is overwhelmed and at capacity. Homeowners are asked to stop emptying sump pumps into the system so sewage won’t back up into people’s homes.

“We’re getting so much water out there that I’ve got two flight pumps going full-board, 24/7 trying to keep up,” the councilmember said.

In a normal year, the pumps don’t run for more than forty hours a week. This spring, they’ve been nonstop for the last two weeks.

“We’re over it. Everybody’s over it, but we’re definitely over it,” said Palmer.

“The ground is saturated. It’s got nowhere to go,” said Holmgren. “So hang on tight and enjoy the ride.”