FARMINGTON — Farmington City Council during its Tuesday work session agreed to seek a temporary fix for erosion and other problems that flooding of the Hood Arroyo near Hogan Avenue causes for the Crestwood Estates neighborhood.

"My pool and yard are almost gone," Chad Silseth told council members during the meeting.

Silseth lives in the last home on Hogan Avenue in Crestwood Estates, and the Hood Arroyo cuts further under his lawn and swimming pool's concrete siding each time it floods, he said.

He fortified the arroyo's banks with large rocks, and when that riprap washed away years later he had one-ton bags of sand dropped at the corner of his pool.

A front end loader removes flood debris in September on East Navajo Street in Farmington.
A front end loader removes flood debris in September on East Navajo Street in Farmington. (Daily Times file photo)

Silseth is one of 199 property owners who filed claims seeking reimbursement from the city for flooding damage when monsoons in 2010 and 2013 caused an estimated $5.5 million in damages, according to city documents. The city approved only three of the claims, Claims Manager Ezora Boognl has said.

Silseth said council should have required the developer of Crestwood Estates to build infrastructure to control the neighborhood's flooding before the city sold the lots. He said he shouldn't have had to spend "thousands of dollars" protecting his property.

But the city's responsibility is limited, according to City Attorney Jay Burnham.

Burnham wrote a memo outlining three legal principals set in state law that guide how the city responds to and prepares for stormwater damage.

Design immunity prevents anyone from successfully suing the city for deciding to build or not build flood-water mitigation infrastructure — storm drains, culverts, detention ponds — but the city can be sued for failing to properly maintain its existing facilities, according to Burnham's memo.

The city cannot spend tax dollars to benefit someone's interest or property, according to an anti-donation law described in Burnham's memo.

And, according to the equal protection principal outlined in his memo, if the city conducts a project to help a single person, it must perform the same project to help others in similar situations.

Councilor Jason Sandel, who represents District 4 where Silseth lives, asked for consensus in a Feb. 4 work session to stabilize the arroyo's banks, but he was denied. He made a similar request in Tuesday's meeting.

The city contracted an engineering firm based in Omaha, Neb., HDR Inc., to examine options for eliminating flooding of the city's drainages. A preliminary report is expected in August.

Sandel said the city should find a temporary way of slowing the erosion, however. Monsoon rains generally begin in August.

"I for one, Mr. Mayor, would like to see some action rather than waiting on a study," he said, addressing Mayor Tommy Roberts.

City Engineer Nica Westerling said any temporary solution could change the arroyo's flow, though, and that could cause further damage down stream. The city would be liable for that damage, she said.

"It's a huge proposal to do what you're asking," she told Sandel.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.