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While the exact cause of last weekend's deadly mudslide in Logan is yet to be determined, the fact it involved a break in a canal raises serious questions about the overall approach in Utah toward inspecting and maintaining the vital waterways.
Utah has some 5,300 miles of canals, built mainly by farmers for agricultural purposes. Historically, they have been vital to the state's agrarian economy, along with taming this desert region. Mostly, they are privately owned with no specific state requirement for how they are built or maintained.
Sadly, over the years, other devastating canal breaks have taken a heavy toll.
-In 1999, a canal in Riverdale broke with terrible damage to an entire neighborhood.
-In 1997, a canal break in Vernal led to a region-wide flood.
-In 1983, the desert was flooded by a canal break near Delta.
It causes us to wonder where the next destructive break will occur and who will be the victims? More importantly, what steps can be taken now to prevent it?
Let what happened in Logan become a catalyst for a thorough review of how canals in Utah are inspected and maintained. With the shift from agrarian to urban living, regulatory oversight, most likely, is in order.