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BYU Today

A River No Longer Runs Through It


Photo by Bradley Slade

A watery era came to an end this winter as construction workers filled the 11.2-mile canal owned by the Upper East Union Irrigation Company—part of which wound its way through BYU’s campus (just south of the Carillon Tower and near Heritage Halls). Surrounded by lush grass and shading trees, the 100-year-old canal provided a haven for both relaxing students and wandering ducks. While the canal had the capacity to pump 12 cubic feet of water per second, according to Roy S. Peterman, ’72, director of BYU grounds maintenance, as much as 43 percent of the water was lost to seepage and evaporation. Because of the inefficient water flow and local communities’ needs due to the recent drought, a state mandate was passed down to replace the canal with pipes.

After Upper East Union finished filling the canal this spring, BYU commenced a five-year program to tap into the new system. The university plans to no longer use city water, instead using irrigation water for various grounds needs. The plan includes features sure to keep students and ducks satisfied: two new ponds and extensive landscaping where the canal existed. And as for the ducks for now? “They’ve moved on and found new homes,” assures Peterman.