Farmers have been only getting 50 to 60 percent of their water delivered, and trying to irrigate their crops in a dry year like this has been really hard on the agricultural community in Logan. —Bronson Smart
LOGAN — Three years ago, a mother and her two children were killed when a canal above their home broke, sending a torrent of water and mud down the hillside.
Now, engineers are getting ready to start rebuilding the irrigation system and make the area safer. The Logan Northern Canal Reconstruction project will cover up the canal and put it underground.
But not everybody is happy with the plan.
Since the 1880s, the canal has been a landmark in the community. People like Marlow Goble have enjoyed having it in their backyards.
"People have developed it into their landscaping, and it's part of the reason they're here, and it's part of their heritage," Goble said.
But the canal needs upgrades to make it safe and restore water flow.
On July 11, 2009, Victor Alanis Jr., 13, Abbey Alanis, 12, and their mother, Evelia Jacqueline Leavey, were inside their Logan home when it was wiped out by a rush of mud and water after the canal gave way. All three died.
The National Resources Conservation Service said after a three-year study was done, the best way to make the area safe is to put the water flow in an underground pipe, designed to contain the flow, and keep it out of reach.
"We studied five different alternatives, and this was the one that came out as the least cost and the most environmentally beneficial," Bronson Smart, state conservation engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said.
The project will redirect Logan Northern Canal water into the Logan Hyde Park Smithfield Canal just below the second dam. The combined water will be carried in a box culvert or pipe in the Logan Hyde Park Smithfield Canal alignment to Lundstrom Park.
At the park, most of the Logan Northern Canal water would be carried into a different pipe under the park and city streets, where it would be released back into the Logan Northern Canal near 1500 North.
Part of the project will actually move the water from the lower canal to an upper canal, away from the landslide area. The plan would double the amount of water that was originally in the canal, Smart said, which would really help farmers in the area.
"Those farmers have been only getting 50 to 60 percent of their water delivered, and trying to irrigate their crops in a dry year like this has been really hard on the agricultural community in Logan," he said.
Because of the extra water flow, Smart said it would be unsafe to leave the canal open.
Goble agreed that something should be done, but he doesn't believe putting in a 66-inch pipe is the answer. "It's something that's going to destroy our environment and the beauty of Logan," he said.
He, along with other residents, pleaded with project managers to come up with another option. They asked them to consider putting in just a 3-foot pipe underwater to contain that extra flow, leaving the rest open.
Construction will begin in the next few weeks and should be complete sometime next year. The project will cost around $20 million, with 75 percent of the money coming from federal grants and the rest from cities, county and irrigation companies.