This story just drags on and it never seems to get better for the victims. According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, the state Executive Water Task Force will move forward on a review of canal safety issues but again, incredibly, they will not look into the cause of the collapse of the Logan Northern Canal that killed three and destroyed or damaged a number of homes. But even setting that issue aside, don’t keep your fingers crossed for anything meaningful on basic canal safety from this group.
Let’s take a look at who sits on the Executive Water Task Force. The task force is led by Mike Styler, current director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources and a former canal company president, and is otherwise stacked with farmers, canal owners and water rights attorneys. Not surprisingly, comments made to date by members do not suggest that they have any interest other than looking out for themselves. Comments like development came to the canals, and ways to insulate canal companies from liability should be studied. They have given minor lip service to an alleged list of safety items to study, but there don’t seem to be any specifics.
Gary Herbert, who likely will be sworn in as Governor next Tuesday, has called canal safety in the state an "urgent problem." And this is the response? A seemingly powerless task force that at least in name has canal safety as but one item on its agenda. Even if it does have any power, given its make-up it is hard to believe that they will do or recommend anything other than what is in their own self-interest – protecting the canal companies and water users at the expense of, and perhaps the safety of, the rest of us.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.