Active landslide makes 3 Riverdale homes uninhabitable, likely forever; more at risk

Three homes in Riverdale are threatened by the severe erosion of the hillside directly below, seen here Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. A mandatory evacuation went into effect earlier in the week, and moving vans were a common sight as the homeowners took their belongings to a safer location. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Laura Withers

RIVERDALE, Utah, Nov. 29, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Residents of three Riverdale homes have been evacuated as a landslide continues to destabilize the ground beneath them.

The first movement was detected in the area of 4850 S. 600 West on Nov. 19. The hillside behind the residences began to slough off in large chunks. City officials told residents to evacuate, but within hours, residents were allowed back in.

On Monday, a state geologist and engineer were brought in to reassess additional earth movement and changes in stability. On Tuesday, the voluntary evacuation order was made mandatory. One residence has visible cracks in its basement, a Riverdale official said.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Riverdale City Administrator Rodger Worthen called the incident an “active landslide,” adding that a no-trespassing order is in place, and anyone found around the affected homes will be arrested.

Worthen said tests of city water lines have detected no leaks, and there are no wells in the immediate area, so it is unclear what is saturating and destabilizing the hill.

Natural springs do exist in the immediate area, and drain off the hillside, but that is nothing new, Worthen said. Paperwork dating back to Utah pioneer times exists, and documents a farmer’s request to gather water draining from the hillside to give to his cattle.

Worthen said it’s “more than likely,” that at least the three homes will never be habitable again, and that more nearby structures may meet the same fate.

“It’s active and growing, and that’s our concern,” Worthen said. “From what the state geologist is telling us, it’s going to be active for some time.”

The slide is already about 100 feet wide and 300 feet long, according to estimates from Jared Sholly, Riverdale’s fire chief.

The shape drawn on the map shows the area of the Riverdale landslide. Image: Riverdale City

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