Water service resumes after canal breach that damaged Murray homes

Published: Monday, Aug. 26 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

Kurtis Barnes mixes concrete to build a fence at a home on Saddle Bluff Drive in Murray, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. Damage was done when a canal broke in April.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

MURRAY — Water is again flowing through a canal that breached in April, sending mud and debris into several homes along Saddle Bluff Drive, but work continues as residents recover from the damage.

On Monday, homeowner John Brown said there had been no leaks since water service resumed in the canal earlier this month. Brown, whose home was among three that experienced flooding and property damage as a result of the slide, said he is confident in the canal company's repairs, including plans for an electronic early warning system.

"We're happy with the progress," he said.

Boyd Simper, secretary and treasurer of the North Jordan Canal Co., said the water flow was turned on Aug. 1 after modifications were made to the structure of the canal, including a waterproof lining that was added to the canal's base.

"We hired a geologist and an engineer," Simper said. "They made recommendations, and we followed those recommendations."

The canal breached on April 27, sending a wall of water into the homes along the west side of Saddle Bluff Drive. The city and community responded quickly, with dozens of volunteers arriving to lend a hand in the initial cleanup efforts.

"We did what we could on the emergency basis," said Jan Wells, chief of staff for Murray Mayor Dan Snarr. "When residents are flooded, we do try to help them."

Wells said the city is still working with the canal company to secure repayment of cleanup costs. She said the reconstruction of the canal has been out of the city's control, as the canal is owned and operated by the North Jordan Canal Co., but city officials have worked with residents and canal officials to address questions and concerns.

"The canal company went ahead and fixed it the way they wanted to, and some of the residents wanted more heavy-duty repairs that the company wasn’t willing to do," Wells said. "Of course, we’re always concerned for our residents and their safety, but they have to also be responsible homeowners in how they take care of the slope of the canal, and there have been some questions about that and whether they’re doing it in the best possible way."

Murray City Councilman Dave Nicponski convened a special task force to provide a forum for homeowners and canal officials to meet and move forward. The task force held a meeting about a month after the breach, and an independently contracted engineering firm was able to review and sign off on the canal company's reconstruction plans.

"We were able to offer assurances to the residents," Nicponski said. "The canal company has been very good to work with in this process."

But Nicponski said he recognizes that for those affected by the slide, recovery efforts can't take place fast enough.

"If you’re a victim, you might see it differently because it’s just hard for them," he said. "It’s just such a recovery. It’s hard for them, and we know that it’s been hard for the residents, and that’s why we wanted to offer a conduit with this task force."

Nicponski said the task force will continue to meet on an as-needed basis.

"The residents have been great in this," he said. "For the damage they suffered and the difficulty they've faced, they've really been outstanding in this process."

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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