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Sam Penrod, KSL-TV

Salem canal breaks, community works to prevent flooding

By Megan Marsden Christensen | Posted - Aug. 25, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.

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SALEM — A break in the Highline Canal near 250 W. 1320 S. caused water to rush out into an orchard and a pasture Tuesday morning, officials said.

The incident was reported around 11 a.m., and city workers and volunteers gathered Tuesday to lay down sandbags in an effort to prevent the water from flooding nearby homes, the city said.

Heavy machinery was brought to the scene to divert the water by bringing dump truck loads of rock and cement to fill the breach in the canal, which is about 10 feet wide and 15 feet deep, Sam Penrod of KSL-TV said.

"We got home and got everything out of our basement, got ready to do sandbags," Salem resident Patrick Hogle said. "I was amazed at how many neighbors and people I don't know showed up, everyone is willing to help."

The canal breach was plugged around 12:30 p.m., but there is concern that the canal will break again if additional areas of erosion are by the original breach.

"Obviously we have been concerned about it," Salem City Police Chief Brad James said. "Other communities have had breaches of their canals, and so we have talked about if this happens what are we going to do, and we implemented that plan today."

The nearby neighborhood set up a defense to prepare for the water if it came, but the water was absorbed by the orchard and a large pasture.

"There's no homes damaged," James said. "We have some tired people, but we were able to accomplish what we needed to, and my thanks goes out to anyone who was part of this today."

There is a neighborhood just 1/2 mile away from the canal.

"There was a lot of water released, and I would say it came within 500 feet of reaching the subdivision," Kent Kofford with the Bureau of Reclamation said.

"Kudos to the city and the canal company, they mobilized things really quickly, and we are not dealing with water in our basement." Patrick Hogle, Salem resident

An estimated 40 cubic feet of water per second flowed down to the orchard and pasture. Crews worked to add strength to the area where the canal broke.

Gophers who have tunneled through the side and weakened the canal are being blamed for the breach. Someone immediately noticed the break and city leaders and volunteers hurried to prevent damage.

"Kudos to the city and the canal company, they mobilized things really quickly, and we are not dealing with water in our basement," Hogle said.

The Bureau of Reclamation owns the 99-year-old canal, which delivers agricultural water to all of southern Utah County.

The Bureau of Reclamation said they've been working to secure funding to turn the canal into a pipeline for the last five years. This is a similar project that enclosed the Murdock canal in Northern Utah County a couple of years ago.

The canal runs for 18 miles from Spanish Fork Canyon to Genola. The canal is being turned off for a couple days for inspection.

Contributing: Sam Penrod


Megan Marsden Christensen


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