Irrigation canal blowout damages county road

Tri-City HeraldSeptember 4, 2013 

Officials from Franklin County and the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District plan to meet Sept. 5 after a ruptured canal caused about $170,000 in damages to a county road.

The South Columbia Basin Irrigation District canal broke Friday, leaving a quarter-mile stretch of Cypress Lane, in the northwest part of the county, impassable, said county engineer Matt Rasmussen.

“It basically ran through a field and down the road and washed out a portion of the roadway,” he told the Herald.

For now, landowners along the road can access their properties using alternate routes, Public Works Director Matt Mahoney told county commissioners at their Wednesday meeting.

“The roads themselves still have a lot of work that need to be done to them,” he said.

Public works officials and Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Verhulp plan to meet Sept. 5 with irrigation district and insurance officials at the irrigation district offices, Mahoney said.

“They’re asking us specific things on what we believe are possible needs to really get our roads back to where they were before,” he said.

Mahoney asked if a commissioner also wanted to attend the meeting. But Commissioner Brad Peck said it might not be appropriate to have one commissioner there because one commissioner can’t speak for the entire board or make a decision.

“The most they can do is bring back information, and, if we can’t rely on the two of you and the civil attorney to bring back information, we’ve got bigger problems,” Peck said.

The county plans to start repairing the road Monday, Rasmussen said.

Irrigation District Manager Dave Solem did not attend the meeting and could not be reached Wednesday about the canal problem.

Also Wednesday:

-- Commissioners discussed how to handle potential hazards in right-of-ways along county-owned roads. The workshop was called to talk about concerns over crops such as corn that can block drivers’ views at curves and intersections.

Commissioners also talked about obstructions that can cause damage to cars that veer off the road, such as irrigation pivots, signs and trees. Mahoney and Rasmussen discussed a policy that would require people who want to place objects in the right of way to get a permit.

“Our research shows that almost no county in Eastern Washington has a policy like that,” Rasmussen told commissioners. “They deal with it like we do, as an ad hoc type issue.”

Peck said if the county decides to make any changes it would hold a public hearing.

“The board decides, and we are a long ways from a decision,” he said.

w Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543;; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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