Gus Sharry, PE          EMAIL:

                                             VOICE:       435.640.7373


Communication is the bench mark of a successful project.


You may have been advised to hire a Civil Engineer, and your first question was... Why? ... see below for a sampling of how we roll...

1. What does a Civil Engineer do?

The human inhabitants of our planet have a few very basic needs...water, food, shelter, waste handling, and transport. To improve our tenuous foothold in a continuously evolving physical environment, we have developed systems to more efficiently address these needs. The Civil Engineer employs intellect to listen,  envision, design, permit, construct, and maintain these systems. In meeting this challenge, the Civil Engineer works with people from most every walk in life to document how we plan our places, reshape the land, deliver our water, transport people and goods, mine resources, recycle our waste, convey stormwater, divert floods, and preserve the land and wildlife. In completing this documentation effort, the Civil Engineer produces models, drawings, specifications, and reports that show and describe what is to be constructed, and where (in three dimensions)  these improvements are to be located on the surface of the earth.

Entering the construction phase, the Civil Engineer will assist in transforming design into hard reality. Depending on Owner capabilities, the Civil Engineer may provide construction cost estimate and observation services only, or full  construction administration services including bid documents and bid  management, observation and progress documentation, contractor payment  and change order management, field engineering, and testing / punch list / construction contract close-out.

2. How do I know if my property is in a floodplain?

The term “floodplain” often times means different things to different people, with interpretations including:

These three definitions can be expected to describe significantly different areas of jurisdiction. Canyon Engineering has extensive experience in floodplain modeling and FEMA permitting. Give us a call and let’s see whether the flood insurance premiums you’re paying could be better spent.

3. The real estate ad says the home comes with water shares totaling 0.5 acre-feet. Is this enough?

For starters, if the ad is worded correctly, you’d be getting shares in a water company, not a water right. This is OK, provided that the water company is a legal entity recognized by the State, and provided the water company owns the water rights to back up shares issued. As for water quantity, the typical  single family home uses approximately 50 gallons per day per person in residence, not including irrigation. So for a family of four, that’s 200 gallons per day, or 73,000 gallons per year. One acre-foot is the  volume represented by water sitting one foot deep over an area of one acre, or 325,829 gallons. For comparison, an american football field  (excluding end zones) covers 1.10 acres, so one acre-foot of water would cover the field to a depth of 10.9 inches. So each year, your domestic water needs would amount to just 22% of this depth. That’s 0.22 acre-feet, or about 2.4 inches of depth over the football field. Therefore, from a domestic use standpoint, you’re more than covered, unless you’ll have lots more people living at home, or your plan includes a micro-brewery in your basement.

As for irrigation, that’s another matter entirely. If you are one who must have a lawn, you’ll need to show you can water at a rate of 3.0 acre-feet per acre per year (Utah climate zone 2). Assuming your lawn covers just 1/4 acre, you’ll need water shares for another 0.75 acre-feet per year (ouch) to keep up with the neighbors.

In summary, your water needs would be 0.75 acre-feet (irrigation) plus 0.22 acre-feet (domestic) for a total  of 0.97 acre-feet. Under such a scenario, you’d want to secure water shares totaling 1.0 acre-feet.

As everywhere, water is life here at  Canyon Engineering. The above example is a simple one where water rights, water quality, pressure, flow, evaporation, exfiltration, and fire protection considerations are not at issue. Whether you’re just doing the math for a purchase as described above, or planning a water  system to serve new development, we can help.

4. What’s the difference between a retention pond and a detention pond?

Think “gatekeeper” ... a retention pond is designed to capture stormwater runoff and keep it there. The intent being that water leaves such a pond only by evaporation, withdrawal by mechanical means (ex: irrigation), and or exfiltration to the soil. As for a detention pond, a more appropriate term is “detention basin” because these depressions are designed to drain down to a more or less dry condition after a storm has passed. They merely capture and delay runoff, while stormwater flows out of the basin to a watercourse or delta at a reduced rate. Both can help us meet stormwater management standards for runoff quantity and quality while adding interest to the landscape. Call Canyon Engineering for expert advice on when to plant man-made structures in the ground, and when to take advantage of the materials  already on site, courtesy of Mother Nature.