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Table of contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | References | Questionnaire | Interview A | Interview B | Interview C | Interview D | Interview E | Interview



The following interviews are included in this appendix for the purpose of offering additional information that may not have been included in Chapter V.  The responses are not edited in any way and are verbatim. 




Canal Trail Questionnaire


·                    The purpose of this open-ended discussion is to obtain as naturalistic a response as possible.  The goal is to gauge general sentiments and put a finger on the pulse of the major concerns and issues revolving around the development of recreational canal trails.

·                    Based on research to date a few of the biggest concerns and issues include:

A.      Liability of canal companies and landowners.

B.       Increased O+M costs.

C.       Law enforcement protection for company, landowner and trail user.

D.      Private property owner rights.

E.       Canal company operator’s rights.




Date of interview: Friday, November 13, 1998


Name: Terel Grimley


Title/ Titles:         President of Utah Water Users Association

                                President of North Ogden Irrigation Company

General Manager of Pineview Water Systems (Ogden R. W. U. A., South Ogden Cons. Dist., and Weber/ Box Elder Cons. Dist.)


Address and Telephone #:                 471 West 2nd Street

                                                                Ogden UT 84404



Administers to what canals?            

Ogden-Brigham Canal

South Ogden Highline Canal 

North Ogden Irrigation Canal.


Which of these are being considered for trail development by others? (Questions specific to these canals are italicized)

Ogden-Brigham Canal, South Ogden Highline Canal and North Ogden Irrigation Canal


Endpoints (cities, towns, river diverted from or any other landmarks)

The Ogden-Brigham Canal begins at the mouth of Ogden Canyon and runs north to Brigham City, 24 miles of concrete lined and piped canal.   The South Ogden Highline Canal begins at the mouth of Ogden Canyon and runs south to Washington Terrace,  7 miles of concrete piped canal.   The North Ogden Irrigation Canal also begins at the mouth of Ogden Canyon and runs to Hot Springs area in Pleasant View ,  14 miles of open dirt lined canal.


The total length  See above


Capacities and depths

South Ogden Highline canal is 100% piped, its capacity is 35 cfs.  The Ogden-Brigham Canal consists of both concrete pipe and open concrete lined canal with a depth varying from 3 ft. to 4 ft.


Width of the canal R.O.W. and the canal itself

The Ogden-Brigham Canal width varies with the concrete lining from about 8 ft to 12 ft depending on the type of section it is, there are regular V type sections and what we call vertical wall sections where the up hill

wall is sloped and the downhill wall is vertical.  The South Ogden Canal is 100% piped.  The width of the canal property varies along the entire length of the Ogden-Brigham and the South Ogden canal from a minimum of 35 feet to up to 100 ft. depending upon the terrain.  The North Ogden Irrigation Canal is 10 ft. wide at the top, 8ft wide at the bottom and 2 1/2 ft. deep generally.  The R.O.W. width is generally

assumed to be 15 feet uphill from centerline and 25 feet from centerline downhill for a maintenance road.


In what year did canal construction begin?

Construction began on the Ogden-Brigham and South Ogden Canals in 1936 and was opened in the summer of  1937.  Construction began on the North Ogden Irrigation Canal in 1856 and the first portion was completed in 1938 and extended in later years.


In what year did the canal open?  See above




1-       Do you know if any canals are currently being used for recreation? If so, what are the existing uses you know of?

·                    The south ogden highline canal is being used as a walking trail. There is a good portion of it going through the ogden city golf coarse they have developed as a walking trail and that’s being used.  Theres a lot of informal use of the other parts of the south ogden highline canal by residents. The cross country and long distance running team from weber state use it. 

·                    The ogden brigham canal is basically an informal use but there are a lot of people who use it to walk and jog on.  We haven’t officially declaired it as a trail but they do use it as that. 

·                    As far as any other canal trails in our area there really aren’t any.  The north ogden irrigation canal…there are some areas that children walk along the maintenance road going to and from school and parks but its an informal use in undeveloped areas, as homes develop against the canal then they don’t use it. We do have on the north ogden irrigation canal where there are some new developments going in they have incorporated the canal in their plan as an informal open space area and they are going to put a trail on it.


2-       Do you allow public use/ access? If not, what signing and notice efforts do you have in place to warn recreation users not to use the canal banks?

·                    Officially we do not, but we don’t police it.  In the areas that especially where its open canal and in some areas where it is piped we have no trespassing signs at all of the intersections where the roads are.


3-       How aggressively are these efforts enforced?

·                    We don’t patrol it, but if we do see someone there we caution them and tell there is no trespassing signs. 


4-       Do you have any concerns regarding these existing uses?

·                    If its an open canal area I do because there is liability associated there and to cover ourselves on liability we have to tell them there not supposed to be there.  But other than that if it’s a piped area I’m not really concerned about it.




5-       To the best of your knowledge, have there ever been any liability or injury claims lodged against your canal company or other entities or individuals associated with the canal?  If so, what?

·                    Yes, in the Ogden- Brigham Canal we have had two drownings.  One of them was accidental. We don’t know how the lady got in and what happened. They think it was suicide. 

·                    We did have one in Pleasentview in our Ogden- Brigham Canal and it was two 17 and 18 year old boys that were tubing down our canal down a drop chute and one of them flipped over and hit his head and he did drown.  There was a lawsuit and the lawsuit was dismissed because he was trespassing. They had driven almost a mile on our canal to the place.  The parents told them not to go over and do what they were doing and they did it anyway.  


6-       What existing risk management do you have in place?

·                    One thing we have been doing besides signage is we’ve started installing gates on access roads to our canal.  In areas where we have this drop chute where these boys were tubing down we have gone in and covered it with the wood plank covering so we have removed that danger.


7-       How do you feel about piping or covering canals as a solution to liability or to increase efficiency of water conveyance?  Have such discussions taken place concerning the canal your company administers too?

·                    Yes, we’ve done a lot of piping. When money is available or we were able to get some either state or federal money, low interest loans.  We have piped a lot of canal.  We just finished two years ago, piping about seven miles of canal through North Ogden and Pleasentview residential areas not only to protect from liability problems also as part of our conservation program, our water conservation plan that we have, anytime we pipe a canal then we gain that evaporation loss from the open canal.  So we do from time to time if we have problems in an area and we have to go and do work then we will pipe it. The places where we do most of the piping is in the residential areas. 

·                    The South Ogden Canal is 100% piped.  Because the Ogden-Brigham Canal is a concrete lined canal the liability associated with people getting in that canal and not being able to get out, we are better off piping it, removing it from liability.  The other canals around like the North Ogden Irrigation and a lot of the smaller ones are dirt lined canals, very slow moving and they add a lot to the atmosphere of the neighborhoods. 

·                    Slow moving canals are shallower, you can drop a stick in and it would barely move werease in our concret lined canals there moving very swiftly because of the float characteristics. 


8-       Are you aware of a cities or counties ability to shield canal companies from liability by way of indemnification or inclusion under their respective insurance? 

Typical Maintenance agreement would state that: The city or agency “ holds harmless company from any and all liability arising out of the construction, maintenance and operation of such landscaping, walkways and parking facilities.”     

 Colorado:  1.   Audubon section of the Colorado River Trail which parallels the Redlands Canal. (Mesa Co. indemnified)

2.        Highline Canal  (each respective city)

3.        Westminster and Farmers Highline Canal. (Westminster)


·                    Typically and one of the reasons that court case was dismissed on that young fellow that drowned in our canal.  Typically, canal and irrigation companies are released from liability because they are an attractive nuisance and the state courts have held that its too large of a burden to require irrigators to pipe and do all these other things.  So, they have required any development that backs up to a canal to fence or to protect the residents from the irrigation canals.  And there are access easements to other areas that if a private landowner, which we are, is released from liabiltiy by states and cities if they want to do a walkway or access private property.


9-       Are you aware of Utah’s Recreational Use Statutes? If so, how much do you know about it?

·                    Yes.


10-   Do you feel the liability risks associated with recreational use of canals are higher or lower or equal to the risks associated with other recreational facilities?

·                    It depends on the nature of the use and the location, if its more in a residential area, because theres water and small children a lot of times aren’t supervised as well as they should be.  Then there is somewhat higher of a risk.  Whereas, in a rural setting and it’s a trail along a canal provided for horseback riding, mountain biking, jogging, things like that, I would think its about the same because your having more mature individuals use it rather than smaller children accessing it.


11-   Do you think some of your liability concerns can be addressed given proper design, construction and maintenance of a trail along any of your canals? Which concerns?

·                    I think they can be addressed and handled with agreements between either ourselves and the cities or whoever wants to develop a trail on the canal. 




12-   To the best of your knowledge, what is the existing adjacent land use by percentage?

Ogden-Brigham Canal                         North Ogden Irrigation Canal 

25-30%                                                   60-65%     Residential

                                70-75%                                                   35-40%   Agricultural

                                   ---                                                             2%         Business


13-   What are the existing ownership standings along the length of the canal/ canals?

In terms of:

                Ogden-Brigham Canal                         North Ogden Irrigation Canal

100%                                                                                                      % Public

                                                                                                100%                                      % Private


·                    Ogden-Brigham Canal, 100% is owned by the United States of America.  The Ogden River Water Users bought it and deeded it to the U.S.A. as collateral for the project so it’s in the name of the U.S.A.  The North Ogden Canal is 100% easement the irrigation company does not own any of it. Its just an easement. So, 100% private.


14-   Does your company or WUA own land under any portion of the canal/canals?

·                    See above.


15-   Does your company or WUA own easements for any portion of the canal/ canals?

·                    See above.


16-   Does the respective city own land under any portion of the canal/ canals?

·                    There is one parcel on the North Ogden Irrigation Canal that the city owns and they just purchased that for a redevelopment where they just built a store there and its only maybe 700 ft. long. The rest is all owned by private landowners.


17-   Are you familiar with general ownership standings along the canal/ canals.

-  How much of the canal corridor is owned in fee simple by adjacent landowners? (Own land and canal company has an easement.) 

-  Have adjacent landowners or the city adversely possessed any sections of the canal R.O.W.?

·                    North Ogden adjacent landowners own 100%.  On the Ogden Brigham Canal theres no adverse possession of federal property.  On the North Ogden it really doesn’t matter to the irrigation company because they just have an easement.


18-   Please explain your relationship with the BOR regarding ownership of underlying land.

·                    The Bureau of Reclamation is the operating agency for the United States on the reclamation projects and the Ogden River Water Users Association is the operating entity that requested the construction of the project and so they are charged with operation and maintenance of all the facilities and day to day administration.  However we do have to coordinate and follow through on federal regulations as far as safety and construction etc.  They do come through once a year and do an annual inspection of the facilities.


19-   Are there any existing encroachments such as fencing or vegetation? If so, how have you dealt with the problem?

·                    On the North Ogden Irrigation Canal there are areas that are fenced.  Some people like to fence there properties, but by state law they can not keep the personnel from the irrigation company out from maintaining and so we do require that if they fence it they have to put in access gates along the canal for our operating personnel to get through.  They fence right up to the canal and some own property on both sides so they fence right across it, but we require them to put a gate on our maintenance road so we can get through and we put one of our locks on it and they can lock it if they want a lock on it.  It has worked out well.


20-   Does your company or WUA have the legal authority to provide (if you wish to) the right for recreation trail use for all parties or some parties? Please explain.

·                    On the Ogden- Brigham Canal if we allow for that we have to be in agreement.  Whoever petitions for that use has to get a licensee agreement that is signed by the ORWUA and the B.O.R. for that use and basically a hold harmless agreement and it states what can and cannot be done but it is a formal liscence agreement for a fifty year period.


21-   Conversely, Would consent from your canal company be legally required if easements for recreational trail use on your canals were acquired from the underlying landowner by a recreational entity or agency?

·                    On the Ogden Brigham Canal since we own it we would have to give permission and on the North Ogden Irrigation Canal…when they do that there are a few areas like I said a couple of subdivisions that have done that we just have requirements of roadway and etc. that we have as far as recreational use we really don’t care as long as the canal is still able to be operated and maintained and the water flows through there unchecked.


22-   Are there different answers for different sections of the canal?

·                    See above.


23-   If easements for a recreation trail were acquired from the underlying landowners by a public entity such as the respective city would Bureau of Reclamation consent to this use be binding?

·                    Yes, if they signed an agreement.  The B.O.R. is favorable to doing trails on reclamation projects.  So, it would be legally binding.




24-   Do you foresee any obstacles in developing a canal as a recreational trail?


A.      Liability ­ Why?

-  Attractive nuisance

-  Liability should cover entire corridor not just path.

B.     Safety ­ Why?

C.       Crime ­ Why?

-  Law enforcement: Time of response

-  Changing emergency procedures/ protocol

-  Protection of facilities and appurtenant structures. Such as flow measurement gauges and spillway structures.

D.      Operation and Maintenance ­ Why?

-  Increased O+M costs

-  Canal company rights: it’s a work space, headgates get daily attention during irrigation season, need availability of frequent daily access to headgates, ditchriders use heavy equipment, need to access both sides of canal, inspection of canal daily.

-  Vegetation management for visual inspection.

-  People need to honor the ditchriders need to pass!

(Have headphones on, dogs running loose, dogs in canal, horses get spooked, bicyclist not paying attention.)

-  and M of dirt canal will not allow surfaced trails along side on canal bank.

E.       Funding ­ Why?

-  Lack of resources (funding) to cope with the increased costs that may or may not be associated with trail development.

F.       Lack of Management entity ­ Why?

G.       Other ­ Please explain:

-  Public perception that the canal is public land.

-  All uses should be subordinate to agricultural use.

-  Private property owner’s rights: taking without compensation, multi-purpose easements.

·                    The only problem I see in doing that, in where we would be agreeable to it where its piped and our liability is lessened are the residences that back up to the canal.  A lot of people think that its wonderful that there is a walking trail, others don’t like it they think its invading their privacy.  We have gone through that in North Ogden.  So, there is mixed reaction.  I’ve found that as people think about it more we have been able to get more agreement that is ok.  But there is always that small group that thinks that crime will increase with trails and it actually does not.


·                    Liability: I would think that if someone is going to accept liability on development of a trail it should be the whole corridor, because the corridors really aren’t that large. Are canals are anywhere from 40 ft. to 100 ft., not very wide.  We would probably require that liability cover the whole corridor.

·                    Crime:  I don’t see a big….there probably would be a need for some visible law enforcement in the area, that’s been talked about in North Ogden, a policeman riding a bike along there at different intervals.  As far as protection of facilities in our corridors everything is under ground except pump stations and we fence them off separately from the corridors.  I don’t think vandalism would increase in those areas.

·                    Maintenance Road: The problem of putting a trail along the North Ogden Canal is you would have to get consensus from all the private landowners to do it, basically easements.  I don’t see too much a problem with all of that there are some that might not like that.  Generally, along the North Ogden Canal the places a trails will be put are in developments that are developed with that in mind, using the canal as a open space as part of the development.


25-   If a trail were developed along one of your canals what implementation measures would you like to see?

-  (Risk management, set backs from maintenance road, fencing, restrictions on time of use, etc.)

·                    I would think that time of use would have to be during day light hours.  As far as setbacks I don’t see any problem there, the trail would have to be separate from our maintenance road.  Sometimes they coincide, but we…in operating our systems we are updating our systems, you know computer control of turn outs and data collection so our canal riders are not as frequently on those roads.  I don’t perceive that there would be that much of an interference with our operation and maintenance, our personnel and people using the trail.


26-   Have you ever been contacted by anyone concerning trail development on any of your canals?  If so, who is it and where do negotiations stand?

·                    Ogden city has contacted us and we have licensee agreements with them.  North Ogden and Pleasentview has contacted us and we have done preliminary conceptual plans with them.  Right now there hasn’t been much done other than informal use, but they are looking at sometime in the next year, starting to formalize some of those agreements.


27-   Are you aware of any other trails built next to irrigation canals in Utah?

·                    As far as irrigation canals around our area I don’t know of any.


28-   What forms of recreational use permission are you aware of?

-  Donation of easements, sale of recreational use easement, sales of fee title to the land under the canal easement?

·                    I don’t know of any fee title or anything like that, it usually just permission is granted like a donation.  As far donation of easement we just grant a right of use.  But we have donated time and equipment hours to helping develop the trail systems along our canals.  We allowed Ogden City to put a parking lot for their Mt. Ogden trail system on our canal.  And we dealt with some grading, etc.


29-   Given that there is no easy way to keep the public off the canals, how do you feel about the idea that opening the canal for recreational use might actually help manage existing uses, as opposed to complete closure, which could be expensive, difficult to enforce and difficult to defend regarding public relations?

·                    I don’t think that just opening it up is the answer I think there needs to be some control.  I think that cities were wise that passed ordinances that if development occurs up against and open canal or a canal that the developers require a fence along the canal, and that covers some liability questions.  I don’t think that there is any way that you could just open it up and let people have free access that increases your liability and maintenance.  I think it does need to be controlled.  


30-   What is your position regarding controlling use through Cooperative Recreational Use Agreements with public entities in order to get help managing the recreational use without interfering with the water works?

·                    See above.




31-   From what month to what month does the operation season last?

When are the canals generally filled and drained? 

What typical O+M tasks are performed during this period?

-  Type of equipment used? -Grade all. Skid Loaders, Track Ho (Hydro Unit), Road Graders, and Draglines.

·                    Our water season begins April 15th and goes through October 15th.  We do operation and maintenance year round depending on what needs to be done in the different areas as soon as the water is out on the 15th is when we go through and drain the system.  That’s on the Ogden Brigham Canal.  On the North Ogden Canal there is always water in it, that canal is also for stock water and theres springs that flow into it.  During irrigation season we do a lot of road maintenance, cutting of trees and shrubs, we try to get spraying of weeds before the irrigation season, but that’s not always successful, so a lot of times we do spraying, etc. during the irrigation season and it really hasn’t been a problem.  Of course operating the system during the irrigation season occurs on a daily basis, and in the open parts we are always pulling trash out of the trash racks.  During the off season is generally when we go through and do maintenance on the concrete canals, any cracks and things like that, and cleaning it.  We go through and clean it in the spring before the irrigation season.  We usually hire a bunch of kids and they go through by hand and clean all the rocks and the dirt out, trim trees or any sage brush and shrubbery that hangs over the canal. Just general maintenance like that.  The type of equipment we use is mainly back hoes with front loaders on them, compressors, pick up trucks, dump trucks.  We go and clean all the siphons which takes four to six weeks to do. This is done in the fall when the water is turned. We use back hoes, pick up trucks and dump trucks to do that.


32-   Do your ditch riders perform O+M checks on a daily basis during operation seasons and if so at what times of the day?

-  How many ditchriders do you have?

·                    We have two shift every day.  The canal riders begin at six-thirty in the morning and end about nine to ten o’clock in the evening, and there is two shifts per day.  They generally make over our whole system, two to three runs per day, per shift.  They are in a half ton four by four pick up truck.  They regulate the turnouts of the water from the canals into reservoirs in the pump stations, they check all the reservoirs along the way, they monitor all the pump stations.  On the Ogden Brigham Canal we have four pump stations along the canal, there are seven or eight reservoirs.  They check the trash racks, keep them clean, where theres open canal we have a trash rack. They keep them clean.  They check the pump house and make sure they are working properly and lubricate the pumps on a regular basis.  They don’t drive the whole canal, where its in town they will just drive surface streets from pump house to pump house or turnout to reservoir, they don’t stay on the canal the whole distance.  There are a lot of section they never even drive.  On the North Ogden Canal if there is a trail put along there it would have to be put on the maintenance road because its not that wide, theres not enough room there for a separation of uses its all open canal. 

·                    We have three full time ditch riders that take turns on their shift on the Ogden Brigham Canal in Weber Co. and then we have one canal rider that operates the canal from the end of Pleasantview to Brigham City and he works six days a week on a shorter hour day and has one day off a week when another canal rider runs his canal for him during the irrigation season. 


33-   What typical complaints do they have concerning ease of O+M?

-  What uses have they reported conflicts with during routine maintenance?

·                    Well we have always had trouble off and on with kids riding motorcycles on the canal and people walking, generally people are very good about it, they see our trucks coming and they will step off to the side and wait for them to pass.  I have had complaints that they will not get out of the way and have to honk the horn at them.  We do get calls from residents when there are kids riding motorcycles.  We have had to put a gate on our Ogden Brigham Canal because the city has changed it dumping ordinances for people dumping limbs and that. They used to have recycling places for you to take trimming to be chipped and now they send them out to Weber  co. and charge for them.  We have had a lot of people drive our canal and dump their garbage along the canal.  So we had to put a gate up cutting off vehicles.


34-   Briefly discuss the operation and maintenance tasks you feel would most likely be interfered with due to increased recreation.                    

·                    I really don’t think that in the areas where we would allow recreation use, I don’t see that there would be much of a conflict.  I think the maintenance, depending on the type of landscaping or development of a trail, if its through say North Ogden City or Pleasantview, the design there was to use more or less natural type vegetation with a gravel or even an asphalt trail.  I don’t see that it would really conflict with our operation maintenance at all.


35-   Do you feel a developed trail would increase, decrease, or have no effect on your ability to maintenance the canal? Why?

·                    I don’t think it would have any effect.




36-   Do you feel there are any resolvable solutions to any of your concerns? Explain.

·                    Im of the opinion that trails along canals and corridors that are used as water conveyance are a good thing, because they generally benefit the public at large, I am certainly in favor of it.  I have talked with my boards about it and they seem to be pretty much in favor of it as long as liability problems are addressed and taken care of, which they can be done.


37-   Could you summarize what it is you feel are the most important issues involving public recreational use of your canal R.O.W.?

·                    I think access.  Limiting access to joggers, walkers, maybe bicycles, but not allowing motorized vehicles such as motorcycles because they do a lot of damage.


38-   Can concerns be addressed with creative and proper design, construction and management of the trail.

·                    Easily


39-   Do you have any final thoughts, feelings, or general concerns regarding recreational use of canals?

·                    I think it’s a good idea.  I liked to see open water.  I think it adds to the life of our communities.  At the Applied Tech Center in town here there is an irrigation canal that runs through there, and one of the local landscape architects did a design through there and it’s a wonderful treatment of the canal that people can use very safely.  I think it can be done.  I think it ought to be done.


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Updated September 1, 2006

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