(KCPW News) So far, two Utah lawmakers are drafting legislation to address concerns about the oversight and safety of the state’s 5,300 miles of canals, following the deadly collapse in Logan on July 11th. Democratic Salt Lake County Senator Gene Davis says his bill would require annual reports from private canal operators and oversight from the State Engineer to ensure problems are fixed.
“I think that’s what this water engineer needs to do, is he needs to know where there is a problem with the water and then be able to monitor the solutions,” Davis says, “but leaving it to the private owners to address their situation or their degree of vulnerability.”
Davis says the problem with the state’s aging canals is clear: Increased urbanization has stressed the system and brought development literally right next to or below the canals. And the cost of running pipe through the canals to prevent seepage and landslides is very high. Davis believes legislation must be in place within a year to ensure the safety of public and private property, and to begin fixing the problem.
“I think we know what the problem is,” Davis says. “I think it’s been studied enough. I think what we have to do is sit down and figure out how we’re going to do it and who’s going to be in charge to make sure that these things are taken care of.”
Davis hopes to meet with the state’s Executive Water Task Force in two weeks to get input about how the legislation should be drafted. Republican Utah County Representative Stephen Sandstrom is also drafting a bill on canal safety.