Farmers and officials celebrate near-completion of canal project

The new canal system is now delivering water to farmland throughout Cache Valley due to the Cache Water Restoration Project. A brief ceremony was held on Wednesday morning at the Cache County Historic Courthouse followed by a tour of the new irrigation structures. Farmers, canal company officials, as well as federal, county, and city officials all met at the ceremony to celebrate the restoration of irrigation water to shareholders.

After the catastrophic landslide in July of 2009 that killed a mother and her two children and left hundreds of farmers and other users with little irrigation water, county officials and federal agency partners began an effort to restore the canal system. The Cache Water Restoration Project has been a subject of debate over the years and even resulted in a lawsuit from private property owners in 2012.

Though it’s been a long road, officials are excited about the near completion of the project and feel they are doing the right thing for an area they say depends greatly on agriculture.

President of the Logan/Hyde Park/Smithfield Canal Company Keith Meikle said that shareholders have suffered for over three years, receiving 30% less income based on the water they’ve received.

“USU is where it’s at because the canals were put there. The cities have developed because the canals were there,” said Meikle. “Never underestimate how much impact those canals have had. The future of this county is completely shaped by the water that flows through it.”

Cache County Council Chairman Val Potter also stated how important he felt this project was for the community. “A successful irrigation year is a difference between money for the family and no money for the family,” Potter said. “The income of the farmer is dependent upon that.”

The $24 million project was finished below budget, according to State Conservationist Dave Brown. It was also finished ahead of time under direction of JUB Engineers and Whitaker Construction. Brown also pointed out that the canal project will save 7,400 acre feet of water per year.

“Think about a swimming pool that’s 220 square feet. Now start filling it with water. You fill it one foot and you’ve got an acre of water,” Brown described. “Now fill it 7,400 feet deep. That’s a mile and a half. We could fill that swimming pool every year with the water we save from this project.” 

Water was restored to all irrigators of the Logan and Northern Canal on May 6. There is still landscaping left to finish and it should be completed by the end of August. 

Official Press Release

LOGAN, Utah, May 29──The catastrophic landslide in July of 2009 resulted in the failure of the canal system that kept much of Cache Valley green and productive for generations. Cache County officials and federal agency partners immediately began an effort to restore a canal system that provides vital irrigation water for the community in a safe and secure way.

On April 17th water was restored to the irrigators on the Logan and Northern Canal (LN) between the original diversion and the breach. Then on May 6th water was restored to the irrigators on the remainder of the LN Canal as well as the Logan/Hyde Park/Smithfield Canal (LHPS). To celebrate this significant event, farmers and canal company officials met with city/county and federal officials to mark the restoration of irrigation water to the shareholders. A brief ceremony was held at the Cache County Historic Courthouse followed by a tour of irrigation structures now delivering water to area farmland.

“These canals are the heart of our community’s economy and culinary water security. It’s hard to express the joy the shareholders feel to see this water restored,” said Keith Meikle, president of the LHPS Canal Company. “As the sponsor of this canal restoration project, Cache County’s objective has always been to restore water to the agricultural users and the municipalities. We are happy to see the major portion of the canal reconstruction completed and water flowing to the users,” said Val Potter, Chairman of the Cache County Council, speaking for Cache County, sponsor of the canal restoration project.

The Cache County Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) project, named the Cache Water Restoration Project (CWRP), was funded with $19 million from EWP funds through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and $5 million of local funds from the sponsor and their partners. Those partners include Logan City, North Logan City, Hyde Park and Smithfield, as well as the LN and LHPS companies. Cache County hired JUB Engineers to be the Project Manager. The project team comprised of JUB, the sponsor, and their partners, selected the design team of MWH Global and Hansen, Allen, Luce to be the project designers. Subsequently, the project team and the design team awarded the construction contract to Whitaker Construction. A process was selected that involved the project team, the design team, and the contractor in the overall design of the project. This process resulted in a substantial savings of time and funds to the project.

The Emergency Watershed Protection Program was set up by Congress to respond to emergencies created by natural disasters. “EWP is designed to protect life and property from any future event of a similar magnitude,” said Dave Brown, NRCS State Conservationist. “We are involved in several other EWP projects across the state and I’m always impressed by the leadership county officials take to make sure citizens are protected from natural disasters to the greatest extent possible,” he added.

More information about the Cache Water Restoration Project is available online at <a href=”http://www.cachewater.com/” target=”_blank”>www.cachewater.com</a>.

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