Canal rebuilding digs up negative reactions
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 12:02
The Logan northern canal broke due to a landslide on Canyon Road three and a half years ago, killing three people. Construction to rebuild the canal enclosed in six miles of underground pipe is ongoing.
Andy Neff, a contractor with JUB Engineers and a member of the Cache Water Restoration Project Team, said the story goes back to July 2009 when the landslide caused a breach in the canal.
“It stopped irrigation clear to Smithfield,” he said.
After the disaster, Neff said the first step to reconstruction was to work with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to prepare an environmental impact statement.
Neff said the statement was finished in 2011 and construction has since begun. Rebuilding the canal is a very important project for the City of Logan.
Mark Nielson, public works director for the city of Logan, said the canal is used for irrigation in most of Cache Valley.
“It irrigates peoples’ gardens and everything from Logan to Richmond,” he said.
Neff said farmers with fields along the canal have been affected the worst by the broken canal.
“There has been some temporary water but it has put a large financial burden on the farmers along the canal,” he said. “It has affected the economic health of Cache Valley.”
Because of the strain on the farmers for the last three years, the canal team hopes to have the project completed by spring.
“We hope that we will have water running through the pipes by the time the irrigation season starts in May,” Nielson said.
Neff said there are several other benefits to containing the canal in an underground pipe.
“Not only will we be able to restore water to the shareholders but we will also increase public safety and reduce maintenance costs, not to mention the conservation benefits of decreasing evaporation and seepage,” he said.
While many residents realize the canal must be fixed, some are upset about the way things have been going.
Nielson said citizens are mostly upset about the changes enclosing the canal will make in their yards.
“They have enjoyed a nice open canal for 100 years and now we are enclosing it, so it will be very different from what it used to be,” he said.
Dennis Hassan, a resident along the canal and a professor of theatre at USU, said the city did not want to listen to their concerns.
“We proposed ideas of how they could fix it, but when it came down to it they said this is what we are doing and said there wasn’t time to debate and just pushed it through,” he said. “All we want is to keep some of the beauty of it.”
Neff said the city wishes to appease the wishes of the residents as much as possible, but legal rights to the canal belong to the canal companies who built the sections of canal affected by the incident.
“They have what is called a prescriptive easement,” Neff said. “It states that the canal company has the right to maintain the canal and the area immediately around it.”
Neff said they have made landscape restoration agreements with the residents along the canal. The trees will be replaced and Neilson said there will be a new water feature to help keep the residents happy.
“There was a point when it was going to be much worse than what it is now,” Hassan said. “I have to give it to the city for their dedication to help maintain the beauty we lost. We’ll still have some water above ground and there is supposed to be a nice walkway for the public around it too.”
Nielson said the project is being funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service along with the canal company, the cities of Logan, North Logan, Hyde Park, Smithfield and Cache County.