Spring runoff contributing to landslide concerns in Riverdale

RIVERDALE, Utah -- A hillside in Riverdale crumbling for months could come crashing down significantly more with spring runoff moving in, according to the Utah Geological Survey team monitoring the site.

Project Geologist Ben Erickson said the bluff is now within 30 feet of one of the evacuated homes.

On Wednesday, he and his team installed sensors to measure the groundwater.

"We can track how the water levels have moved over the past week," he explained.

While the sensors will collect data, Erickson said they can't predict how much farther the volatile hillside will continue to crash down, and when.

They do know that it will keep sliding.

"With the springtime coming, there's a lot more water that's going to be in the ground," he said. "That's what's really driving this landslide."

On the land below the slide, Becky Meehan's family farm is consumed by four-foot deep sludge.

"This is what's coming off mountain," she said, as she shoveled the thick slime to create a channel for the excess water that floods her farm.

"It just keeps coming goes wherever it wants to," she said.

The hillside's been pretty quiet this week, she explained, but Meehan knows that's about to change.

"I'm really frightened," she said.

For Meehan, the scary part is the uncertainty of when a chunk of hillside will collapse, and when.

"My biggest concern is those houses coming down," she said.

While Meehan dug up the saturated dirt to divert the water Wednesday, a crew down the way with heavy equipment worked on the railroad.

"It is starting to take out the tracks, and affecting them," Meehan said.

At the same time, a different crew worked in the yards of the evacuated homes at the top of the bluff to cut off some of the water supply.

It's a lot of work that fills up the waiting period.

"When's it going to stop? Is it going to stop soon enough that we can start cleaning up this summer or late spring?" Meehan asked. "Those are all questions that we are just waiting for the answers for."