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EIS for canal reconstruction above Logan’s Canyon Road presented at multi-council meeting

March 30th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Lis Stewart

LOGAN—The long-awaited draft of the environmental impact statement for the Logan Northern Canal Reconstruction Project, which would restore delivery of irrigation water via the Logan Northern canal, was presented Tuesday night at a joint meeting of the Cache County Council and representatives of the Hyde Park, Logan, North Logan and Smithfield city councils.

“The alternative we selected is to combine the two canals,” state engineer Bronson Smart said, referring to the Logan Northern Canal and the Logan Hyde Park Smithfield Canal. Smith represented the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The alternatives to reconstructing the canal considered by the NRCS team in the environmental impact statement are named with colors, and the one selected is the Purple alternative.

The Purple alternative would reconstruct part of the Logan Hyde Park Smithfield Canal (LHPS). Water would be diverted from a box culvert in the LHPS at Lundstrom Park through a pressurized pipeline under city streets to the Logan Northern Canal, and stay in the pipe until about 400 North St. This would cost from $20 to $22 million.

Terry Warner, of HDR Engineering, said that because of the high level of public comments, the Blue alternative—reconstruction of the Logan Northern Canal—was considered as a baseline alternative in the project. Measures would have to be used to stabilize the pipeline along Canyon Road by building soil buttresses, placing shaft foundations, and drains beneath the ground. It would cost about $24 to $26.5 million.

No environmental impacts really helped them to base one alternative over the other, Smart and Warner said. “Most of the impacts are social,” Smart said.

Warner said that each alternative has funding to purchase 14 parcels where risks of landslides are greatest, bringing to mind the 2009 landslide when the canal broke along Canyon Road in Logan, killing a mother and her two children in their home.

“We’re not going to buy all the homes in that area, but there was definitely a zone over the last 30 years that has experienced landslides, and we felt like that was the median zone where the landslide occurred,” Smart said.

The Purple alternative would conserve 7,500 acre-feet of water, Smart said. Part of that water would be left in the Logan River to establish a fishery below LHPS filled with Bonneville cutthroat trout, Smart said.

“Not all the saved water would go down the river,” Smart said.

There is a long-term community benefit to saving water, Smart said. Communities that hold shares in the canal can make decisions on what to do with the water, whether to generate power or send water to irrigation.

“As water in the valley gets tighter and tighter, these kind of conservation measures will become more and more important to your communities,” Smart said.

Currently, the statement is under a 45-day public comment period, Warner said. The final statement will be available mid to late summer, and then the NRCS will make its final decision and authorize funding for the project.

An open house will be held Thursday at the Bridgerland Applied Technical College west campus to receive public input and answer questions about the project, Smart said. The open house runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Comments can also be sent by email to LNC-EIS@hdrinc.com or by mail, Smart said.

The complete copy of the draft of the environmental impact statement, which Smart compared to the size of a phonebook, is available on the NRCS website. Paper copies are available for review at the library, the Cache County office, and the NRCS field office in North Logan. The draft lists all alternatives considered by the NRCS team.

In other business at the meeting:

— Bryce Bird, Planning Manager at the Utah Division of Air Quality, gave a presentation to the councils about improving air quality in Cache Valley during the winter months. On average, Cache Valley has 14 red air days a year, Bird said. The goal is to cut that number in half. In 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency revised the Clean Air Act that raised the standards of how much pollution is allowed in the air, putting Cache Valley and other counties in Utah below that standard. Bird told the Hard News Café the Division of Air Quality is in the process of developing Utah’s improvement plan, which is due to the EPA by Dec. 2012. More information can be found at the Division of Air Quality’s website for Cache Valley.

— A representative of the Utah Department of Transportation, Nathan Peterson, gave a briefing on the safety improvement project at the intersection of US 89 and 2000 West. Because of safety concerns, UDOT was asked to study the intersection in detail, and they found there is a higher risk of crashes there. Peterson said the basic idea is to eliminate the accesses at 2000 West. He said they are hopeful to start the project at the end of the construction season this year or early next year. Currently, UDOT is in the process of getting public input from those who live in the area and who will be affected by the project.


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