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District warns of canal dangers

Published on May 26, 2011 3:01AM

Last changed on June 23, 2011 8:38AM

Commercial warns that children and irrigation don't mix


Capital Press

NAMPA, Idaho -- One of Idaho's largest irrigation districts has launched a radio and TV campaign warning people that canals and children don't mix.

The Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District's $11,000 campaign urges parents to keep their children away from its 85 canals, which snake 500 miles across the Treasure Valley, the state's largest urban area.

"The message of the ads is for adults to educate their children and keep them out of and away from irrigation ditches," said Daren Coon, NMID's secretary treasurer.

The district supplies water to 69,000 acres of farmland as well as 14,200 individual pressurized irrigation parcels in Ada and Canyon counties, which together include roughly 60 percent of Idaho's population.

Several children and young adults have drowned in Treasure Valley irrigation canals in recent years.

The ads warn parents that letting their children go near a canal is putting their life at risk.

"We try hard to get people to understand that irrigation canals can be death traps for children and young people, even adults," said John Anderson, NMID's water superintendent.

The campaign started May 16 with a 30-second TV commercial that will run 78 times over two weeks. It will be followed in early June by a pair of 30-second radio commercials that will air on three valley radio stations through August.

The crux of the commercials is that children have almost no chance of survival if they fall into a canal filled with cold, fast-moving water, especially if the canal is lined with steep concrete banks.

The ads also remind people that canals are private property and playing in one or along its banks is trespassing.

NMID started the campaign after its research discovered an average of three children per year die in Idaho canals.

This is the 10th year NMID has conducted the campaign. The ads are typically used by other groups and irrigation districts around the state, which alter them with voice-overs.

Coon said that's OK with NMID, whose sole purpose is to save lives.

"These ads are designed to be borrowed," he said. "If somebody else is helped by it, all the better."


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