UTAH LAKE DIKING PROBLEM
REPORT OF INVESTIGATIONS, by L. H. Winsor
In response to a speoial reque.t by Mayor Mark Anderson or
Provo and confirmed by Chair.man Ray H. Leavitt or the State Aeronautios
Division through Chief Engineer )(r . Roy W. MeLeese and Chief Bridge
Engineer, Yr. Houseeroft, a careful study has been made conoerning the
feasibility of protecting the provo Airport against the rising waters
of Ut ah Lake that threaten oomplete inundation during the spring of
1947. The following findings , conolusions, and recommendations, are
outlined in detail and these are supported by a series of photographs
showing results of diking in other localities where conditions are
similar or where they are less favorable.
1. Utah le.ke is subject to a wide range of fluctuation in ./ater
surface elevation from year to year . The Lake is used as a storage
reservoir for surplus tlood waters from Provo River , Spanish Fork and
other smaller streams . According to Court Deoree, it is ruled that COIP
trol gates must be opened when Lake level reaches "Compromise" which
is elevation 4488 . 95 ft. above sea level. After that the various interests
inoluding agrioultural lands, tndustrial plants , the Provo Airport,
etc. must take the consequence of a further increase in lake level,
which according to some wel l-informed observers such &8 W. A. Knight may
r each this year an e l evation of 4490 or more, plus the added levels
due to wave action from high winds . (Note, As a rurther reference,
aee clipping from Salt Lake Tribune of January 19, 19(1) Copy of which
1s attached to this report)
2. On February 6, the writer , assisted by Mr. Erwin Koser found
the lake level to be at elevation 4486 . 87 or 2. 08 feet below compromis~
and that the taxi strip at the SW corner of the airport was already
3. The runways are found to vary between elevations 4486.50 aDd
4490 .00 appr oximately. For this r eason, it is probable that water from
Utah Lake wi 11 completely inundate the rurarrays during extreme high
water period unless steps are taken immediately to prevent such an unfortunate
4. It is found trom an exami nation of the original plans that
the airport was to have been protected fr om flooding by a dike and
moat and with pumps to remove seepage water that would enter the moat
during periods of high lake l evels. For some unexplained r eason,
the dike, moat, and pump installations were not made when the airport
was built,; hence, the present situation. Electric conduits and lines
were laid and inter ior drains were installed, but the job of diking
was stopped short of completion .
5 . The original plans for diking, etc . were complete , and
adequate, so far as the files avai lable i ndi cat e, and i f they had
been construoted at the time the airport was bui lt, the work could
have been done on dry gr ound with the aid of bulldozzers for stripping
and for building a large part of the embankment s . Under present conditions,
it is probable that the work must be done by dragline at an
increa se in cost --a material increa se.
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6. Even under the present condition where rising lake levels
threaten to inundate the airport before protection can be provided,
the undertaking would seem to be justified by virtue of the fact that
(a) the essential features of the airport have been completed and
are in splendid oondition except fOT the threat of inundation . (b) An
investment of nearly one mdllion dollars bas been made that needs to
be protected. (0) There 18 no other site available that would Dot
enoroaoh upon valuable agricultura l lands . (Utah county 1s noted for
its small farms --only 3 acres per family.) (d) It a new air port of
equal size and quality were built on higher ground, it would probably
cost more than a million dollars and the expense would have to be ra1ted
locally without hope of material aid f r om the National Government. (e)
In the present instanoe, the National Government would seem to have a
oertain moral r esponsibility to aid, at least, in completing the job
that was left unfinished when the major works were built .
7. Topographic and soil conditions have been examined in detail
and everything is favor able regarding the problem ot building a
dike and sump or moat that .tIl provide complete proteotion against
inundation, even if the Lake were to rise oonsiderab ly (one or more
tee) above oompromise .
By comparison with similar works at the mouth of Jordan River,
at Bear River Bay, at Ogden Bay, at Farmin~ton Bay and elsewhere in
Utah, and ~: numerous loeations on Souris (Mouse) River in North
Dakota, Sa~ Lake, La Creek, Jim and Arraw-wood l akes in South
Dakota; Medioine Lake. Montana; Talbot Lake, Minnesota; Mule- shoe
Lakes , Texas; Bitter Lakes , New Mexico; Tul e Lake California; Malheur
Lake, Oregon; Turnbul l Lakes , "asbington. These and many other
projeots in North and South America and on the other side of the
world, that have been planned and built under the immediate supervisiao
of the writer gives him a background for saying that conditions at
Provo Airport are more favorable for sucoess than at most of the
looalities named . There have been no failures in any of the diking
projeots indicated . Some of them have been in suooessful operation
since 1927, and all those named were completed prior to 1936. Some
carry water as deep as 8 teet against the dikes. Al l projeots in the
Northern states including Utah, are subjeot to ioe aotion . All have
withstood the same without serious damage.
A tew photographs are filed as a supplement to this report in
verifioation of the statements made above .
It is the writer ' s opinion that the job of proteoting the Provo
Airport is entirely f easible; that it can be done well within the
limits of eoonomy even under the most adverse conditions arising
from the present high l&ke level; and he is ready to assume full responsibility
tor success providing that he be gi ven authority and
necessary financial support, for carrying plans to completion.
8. In order to prevent as muoh damage to the airport as pOSSible,
through rising Lake levels, it is reco n~nded that steps be taken immediately
to hold lake levels as law as possible; (a) by preventing the
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transfer ot water, this year, from Weber River to Deer Creek Reservoir;
(b) by arranging to fill Deer Creek Reservoir from the Provo River;
(0) by opening the gates at Jordan River Intake now, rather t han
after or when the Lake r eaches "Compromise" (d) by oper ating the
pumps into Jordan River now and until high water is over to the full
capacity of Jordan River and the surplus canal •
. It this is to be done , it would be possible even at this late
date to construct the necessary dikes at certain critical locations
to protect the airport against flooding this year. In this event,
it ~ll be necessary to make temporar y pump installations to hold
the water levels down in the sumps to prevent water logging under the
runways, and to protect the underground electrio conduits rrom shorting
out the lighting and the electric power system.
9 . In order to provide complete proteotion against flooding now
and in future, it is required that a dike and moat be built all the
way around the airport. SolI borings reveal a porous formation beneath
a fairly tight, silty clay at depths between two, to four
feet. For this r eason, a puddle oore must be dug to a depth beneath
the greater portion of the porous formation to shut ofr as muoh of the
seepage water as possi ble. This 1s desirable even und~r lcwwater
oonditions sinoe there is a "perched" water- table (water below-the
surface that comes from irrigated lands and from springs higher up
the slope and a formation below the surface that holds the ground
water above low lake levels) . At high lake levels, the puddle core
is imperative to avoid the necessity of exoessive pumping costs.
This cor e may be made from the silty clay obtained by digging the moat
around the airport well outside of the area required for safe landing
on the runways.
By holding water levels in the moat well below the sub-grades
under the runways the life of the runways will be materially prolonged and
maintenance expense will be greatly reduced .
10. Since writing the above, a fund of $30,000 .00 has been raised by
Provo City and the State of Utah, to begin the diking program proposed .
Seven draglines are now at work. Two of these are large machines and the
cost of moving to and from the job is very heavy . (For the 4t yard ~chine
cost of moving in was more than $1,000 .00) .
Ir the work can be carried t o completion while these machines are on
the job, the results will be sure. The airport will be protected against
ruination and the final cost will be much less than would be the case it
an attempt were made to provide temporary protection, with the very limited
fund now available .
It is estimated that a fund of approximately t 100,OOO . 00 is r equired
for building t he dikes all the way around the airport tor installing pumps
for removing surplus water and ror holding down water' l evels in the moat and
tor improving the system of permanent drainage . Also, to complete~he roadway
into the airport.
1 _ Bear River Bay diking project ",'as first studied from the
ice , and its action on the shore line .
2 - Ice mounds along shore line of Bear River Bay.
29-90 On the dike line in mid-winter.
type of silt of which dikes were
• _ :r -.-.. I - ~ ......... .
- ......-...-... .-. --.._._ _.~.. t
?men the ice t h awed " further studies Vler e
made by use of "The Mud Queen " " 9 fIst
bottomed b oe t prope l led by e Model "T"
wi th peddles on the wheels which Vlere
locpt ed each side of the r e e r end of t he
27- 10 - The "Mud Queen" operates best in wster
onl y one inch deep, over 8 mud covered
28- 20 _ Another form of transportation Vies 8 Franklin
automobile with flanged wheels that r an inside
of e belt with cleetes on outer surface .
.. ..... . ..:.:. .~ -'~-
3 _ Testing lake bed end delta soils for dike
loc~tlon in designing Bear River Bay Project .
.- .- --
2B- ll Plene- table survey party mgklng mgp of
Beer Bey Project .
27 - 18 Two grand dragline vlorked two years
building Bear River Bey dikes . This
heavy machine operated on timber mats .
32- 4 Bear Bay Project in. full operation after two
yeers of succes sful operation . There were
no dike f ailures.
27- 6 Roadway leading into Be~r Bey Project .
Looking eeat from project .
-, -. ,
Bear Bay dikes in mid- winter .
Ice action on embankment
of Beer Bey .
31-16 Ice has pushed up
a windrow of mud and
debris against toe of
slope outside main
Spillway through dikes in earl y winter .
32-10 - Ice has no detremental effect upon flat slopes
of Bear Bay dikes. Note marks left by heavy
ice action that pushed great piles all way
ovpr enbankment .
32-9 - Nar ks left by ice that piled high on top
of outer Bear Bay dike during break-up.
27- 50 - Before undertaking the final design of Bear River
Bay diking project experiments were carried on for
a full year under similar conditions at mouth of
Jordan River where a dragline was available. Dikes
were constructed with various degrees of slope i.e.
1 to 1!, 1 to 3; 1 to 6 and 1 to 10. This picture
shows the 1 to 6 slope in foreground, 1 t.o 10 in
middle of picture and 1 to 1i in distance, just
as water on right began to rise against the experimental
28-112 - Water begins to cover slopes of experimental dike .
28-1128 - Beach lines along same dike after lake level
27- 50a _ Experimental dikes at mouth of Jordan when lake was
at high l evel.
28-114 - Same after water had receeded somewhat .
21-60 - Looking at ~r1mental dike after heavy wave action
had worked on dikes for a long time. 1 to 10 slope
on left; 1 to Ii slope on right.
_ Lookln~ back along 1 to 3 sl ope 1n foreground and
1 to It slope in distrance with full _lake on left.
Same five years l ater, when lake level "WaS low.
32-u6 - Section of Jordan River dikes 5 years
32- 48 Section of Jordan River dike five years after
compl etion, showing how vegetation has grown in
shallow water section and salt grass has covered
PF~~C";:::~::~,-"~'~';~k Ander- ~ he b.u
to atud), or
"",;;,;~~,;,;;;;, diking project around
the municipal airport and
to 00 the feuibllity ot the
explained, ·":::'-"""t hu become evident
dike must be constructed
or airport will be ruined bY
high water thall.lt year ran oyer
II portion of one runway, and
threatenl thill year to flood a conIiderable
parl of the airport," he
~,t irport Dike
PROVO-Mayor Mark Anderson
said Saturday that he has
written to L. M. WlnllOr, promInent
Salt Lake City engineer,
asking him to make a IItudy of
the proposed diking project around
the Provo municipal airport and
to report on the feasibility of the
Constructed in 1942 at a coat of
$822,000, the airport is located on
the eut shore of Ut.a.h lake. OrigInal
plans provided tor & dike and
pump!!, but were never carried out.,
the mayor explained.
"Now it has become evident
that a dike must be constnlcted
or the airport will be ruined by
high water t hat l8.3t year ran over
a portion or one runway, and
threatens this year to fLood a con.
iderablc part of the airport," he
Mayor Anderson pointed out
that several people have expreaaed
the opinion that the a1rpcrt eannot
be diked eUeeUvely. and tOl' that
reaaon, he laid, the city mUlt have
expert opinion on the matter.
Mr. Winsor hu engineered more
dike. than any other man In Utah,
Mayor Anderson wei. hence the
city wiehe. to employ him to In •
• pect the planl and the &trport
~~unda tor an expert opinion.
Engineers Take Over
Utah Lake Diking Today
Trlb .... e Le._ WIre The diking, the mayor aald, is
PROVO - Army eng I n e '" ~ I .'''''''''''ng satisfactorily. He
Thursday will take over the job added that Mr. Winsor would con.
completing the diking of the p roject as the city's
airport against the rising of Utah lake, Mayor Mark ~~:~] ::~~;'~J~~~~~i~f~'~'~t~~~)
son reported. taken
Mayor Anderson said Utah lake is
been informed L. ~M~·_:~;'~~:~II ;;; It.!! high point
Salt Lake City.""' C··, ... ::;, · , year, of diking the
has been handling against lake waters
diking project, that a crew become a race agaln,t time,
eral army cnglneer1l had otrlciab point out. Portion. of
at the project and would taxi strtps at the airport have
vise Its completion. covered with water and air
Back Red Cross Drive
OGDEN-Employes of the U.
forest service regional .~::.~"~:~::
steurbss cinr ipOtigodne nt oma ,tdh~~'e, :'~h;;',,~"~~~~ ~~d
CraBB 1947 fund
at the field dlacon-
lille .tllll :ltab lII'riln",e
18 TuesdaY. )larcb 18, 194.7
T .lb ... l.e __ ,,·In
will be ready
II to the
Co. of Salt lAke City.
The army engineers, In t.aldng
over the diking job from the city
and state, announced that at leut
halt a doun dr.gUnea will be
ployed In the operation (rom
on and that there would be no
up In the work.
Mayor Mark Anderson repo!:.'<~
that L. M. Winsor, Salt
diking and irrigation expert,
continua on' the project ...
sultant representing th,.... _." I
Mayor Anderson aald the
,meers indicated that ~~;:~~ I would be completed within a
lmately 30 days.
Pointing out that thh"J"O,",~~,1
Knudsen Co. haa
pumpa, Mayor Anderson
water would soon be removed
(rom around the runway. and the
Laxl strips ot the aJrport.
"Once we get to lhe point where
we can pump the water we
won't have to worry any
he said. "We hope to have
water out in a few day •. "
Mayor Anderaon aa.id the
other company to bid for the
wu the Warren Con.trucUon
..30 - 19
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