SPANISH FORK — New evidence shows that residents of a troubled Spanish Fork subdivision may be living on a site that was improperly prepared.

An attempt earlier this month to repair a leaky water pipe buried under a street at Spanish Fork Ranch revealed trash in the utility trench.

As a result of the finding, a recent report given to Spanish Fork's City Council about the cleanliness of the trenches dug for the development's utility lines is being called into question.

Trash was supposed to have been excavated and hauled away when the trenches were dug during site preparation at the subdivision, according to engineering specifications.

But at least some of the trenches — which are under the streets — were apparently refilled with trash, not dirt, said Terry Beebe, an environmental health specialist at the Utah County Health Department.

"That surprised all of us," said City Attorney Junior Baker. "The project director certified that it was fine."

A report by RGB Engineering of Provo assumed that the utility trenches were backfilled properly, he said.

"That was what was represented to us," Baker said. "(RGB) didn't check under the road. They didn't want to dig up fairly new asphalt."

RGB's test revealed that the dirt cap wasn't installed properly in some areas of the new subdivision. Both the problem with the trenches and dirt cap will have to be corrected, Beebe said.

The health department is continuing with a fact-finding study of the subdivision before it makes final recommendations to the city and the few residents who live there.

"We're trying to get all our ducks in a row," Beebe said. That includes meeting with state health and hazardous-waste officials and the Army Corps of Engineers. The health department wants to meet with the Corps of Engineers to make certain the trash dump was closed properly, Beebe said.

"There is no immediate health threat," he said.

The health department has been testing the groundwater at the subdivision and brought in Brigham Young University students to test for methane gas buildup under the manufactured homes.

Unsold manufactured homes are being hauled away.

"We can't make recommendations unless there is a law to support them," Beebe said. "At this point we don't know if the people will be relocated."

Residents have sued the developer, Ron Jones of St. George. The case is pending in 4th District Court.