Friday, January 29, 2010

Hunsaker: You Can't Handle The Truth About Canal Safety


Last summer's deadly Logan canal collapse is spurring efforts to identify potential hazards along Utah's waterways, but a House bill would keep those findings secret from the public and even the courts.

That is, if there ever were any findings from HB60, the Water Conveyance Facilities Safety Act. Compliance, if the measure passes, would be voluntary.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Fred Hunsaker, R-Logan, says water companies should create management plans identifying potential hazards along their canals or ditches. Voluntary compliance would give them continued access to state revolving funds. Noncompliance would cut them off from state money for repairs or hazard prevention.

But Hunsaker's bill would make the plans exempt from the Government Records Access and Management Act, Utah's open-records law. And if a lawsuit were filed in the event of canal failure, the management plans -- or the lack of them -- would not be allowed as evidence in civil negligence, injury or damages litigation.

But because the canal companies wouldn't have to actually file the plans with the state, only certify that they exist, would they be records at all? And what would be their point?

HB 60 -- The "We know whether or not you live under a canal that could destroy everything you own and possibly kill you, but we're not going to tell you or the state." bill.

Cause that will work really well.


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