Canal manager ‘bitter’ about construction delay

The start of a multi-million dollar Logan North Canal reconstruction project has been delayed now that the federal government has called for a full Environmental Impact Statement rather than an Environmental Assessment, which normally takes much less time to obtain.Cache County has agreed to manage the project for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the project involves not only the local canal companies but also Logan City, North Logan, Hyde Park and Smithfield. The federal funding is in place but it could be five years before the canal project could be completed. At Tuesday night’s Cache County Council meeting, Cache County’s Water Manager Bob Fatheringham told the council that because of the threat of a lawsuit the process has been moved from an Environmental Assessment to a full Environmental Impact Statement. Conducting an Environmental Impact Statement takes much longer than conducting an Environmental Assessment.Keith Meikle, President of the Logan Northern Canal Company, said he has been bombarded with calls from farmers and water masters who stand to be badly hurt by the delay.”There’s no more water (that is) going to be developed in those mountains,” Meikle told the council. “The cities have all captured it. They’ve got efficient structures to grab it. As this valley grows, they’re going to have to treat canal water for their culinary water. North Logan is already planning that. “The fact that that hits 2012, I had a meltdown in a meeting when I got that. You can’t imagine the amount of pressure that gets put on people like me right now. I’m looking at three more years before the beginning of construction and two years of construction? I’m bitter.”The proposed project, which is to be managed by the Cache County Council, came about after three people were killed in a landslide on Logan’s Canyon Road last summer.Cache County Executive Lynn Lemon says last summer’s canal breach has disabled the water distribution capabilities of the canal, drastically hurting agriculture.”Jim Gass is the city administrator for Smithfield City,” Lemon explains, “and he talked about how important this is for Smithfield City just as far as them getting water for the city themselves.”Some people have the idea that ‘well, this is not really effecting anybody but agriculture.’ It’s affecting agriculture in a major way, and a major part of our agriculture, but it’s also hurting the people.” Lemon says a Canal Reconstruction Project Public Scoping Meeting has been set for August 11, with presentations being made at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the Bridgerland Applied Technology College. The public is invited to attend and there will be a question and answer period after each presentation. Council members agreed to do everything possible to get the start of the project moved up.

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