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Canals deserve caution

Published on September 14, 2012 3:01AM

Last changed on October 12, 2012 9:10AM


There is probably no shortage of folks, beat down by the sun on a hot summer day, who contemplate taking a refreshing dip in an inviting irrigation canal. We hope they think twice and then don't do it.

Idaho irrigation districts are reminding the public that canals are not safe places for anyone other than employees. They cite the following spate of deaths as examples of the dangers:

* Three people were electrocuted Aug. 30 in a canal in Bingham County. A broken ground wire between an irrigation pump and a service pole electrified the water.

* A 45-year-old man was found dead in a Boise-area canal in late August. He had drowned.

* A 43-year-old man drowned in a canal in Meridian on July 11.

* A 45-year-old Bingham County woman was electrocuted last year after touching an irrigation pump that had faulty wiring while trying to exit the ditch.

Besides the risk of electrocution from faulty pump wiring, people can slip and become entangled in aquatic vegetation on the bottom of canals, be sucked into powerful pumps or be swept into spillways.

"There are a lot of things about canals that can be pretty dangerous. The best thing to do to avoid those risks is just stay away from them," Mark Zirschky, manager of the Pioneer Irrigation District in southwest Idaho, said. "It's a really serious matter."

The best way to stay safe is to stay out.


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