Can you explain groundwater levels and what that means for wells and basements?

Groundwater refers to the water that fills the spaces and cracks in underground soil and rock formations. The level of groundwater is determined by several factors, including rainfall, snowmelt, and the permeability of the soil and rock.

Groundwater levels are dependent on many factors, regional rainfall being one.  Groundwater is specifically determined by soil types although groundwater is typically higher towards lakes and other bodies of water.  The type of soils in the area will determine groundwater levels in specific sites. Some soils are less dense and allow water to flow through and also allows water to occupy the same space. Soils that are denser will act as a dam and keep the water from flowing through and create areas where there are high water tables just upstream.

In Vineyard, land drains are required for homes that have basements unless the developer can demonstrate, through a professional engineer's assessment of the soil and state reports, that the historical water table is below the basement level. The building code stipulates that the soil surrounding the home must be graded away from the structure before issuing the Certificate of Occupancy.

In farming areas, the soils are typically designed with generally higher risk due to the abundance of air in the soil, which results in more water retention. In contrast, soils used for housing and buildings are specifically engineered to be denser and prevent water from pooling. This water is designed to divert to the street to prevent sitting water. Nevertheless, the landscaping and grading performed by homeowners can modify the designed water flow direction, leading water to accumulate in basement areas and openings. In these circumstances, groundwater and water, in general, will follow the path of least resistance. To address this issue, the City Building Official requires the installation of proper drainage systems and well-designed basement openings, allowing water to drain away before it builds up within the openings. If these systems were not placed, which may occur on work done without a building permit, then water would not have an alternate route to take away from the home. Regularly timed maintenance is necessary for these systems. If left unattended, they can become clogged. This would prevent the diversion of water away from the home.

Concerned residents or those preparing their properties may call Vineyard’s Building Official or Public Works Engineer at 801-226-1929. They would be happy to address individual concerns and specific questions about their properties.

Show All Answers

1. Is Vineyard in a floodplain?
2. Will the groundwater table rise and flood homes close to the lake?
3. Can you explain groundwater levels and what that means for wells and basements?
4. Should residents close to the lake be concerned with water tables rising with historic snowpack levels? The lake levels are low, but do we see this being an issue?
5. What systems are in place that help with flood potential? How do detention ponds, land drains, underground channels, etc. mitigate flood potential?
6. Does Vineyard have sandbags available to residents?
7. From the city engineer standpoint, what level of concern might exist for the water table rising significantly, leading to flooding basements? Should our residents be concerned about this?
8. Is our ground water table generally low? Will it make a difference for people closer to the lake than those further from it?
9. How will those with septic tanks be affected by potential flooding?
10. Will we experience cracks or aging due to poorly maintained pipes being inundated with rising water?
11. How has the City staff prepared for potential flooding impacts?
12. Will our pavement suffer?
13. Will trees suffer as the soil becomes soupier, starving their roots of oxygen?
14. Is there anything Vineyard residents should know about ASRs?