Summer warning for canals

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It’s becoming hotter, and as long as there is water, the canals will run full.

Just remember: Canals not a place for cooling off.

One of these days luck will run out for residents and visitors who want to cool off in one of the many irrigation canals that meander through Churchill and Lyon counties.

With daytime temperatures rising into the low 90s and definitely hotter by July, the first inclination is to cool off.

Swimming pools are fine. Sprinklers are fine. A good cold shower also has two-fold uses.

But what’s not fine is taking the plunge in one of the many canal.

As we all know, when the tempers begin to soar — like they did last year in late June and early July — an increasing number of people begin swimming in the canals.

The majority of people use the V-line canal for recreational purposes from Casey and Bottom roads to the Lovelock Highway. Truckee Canal in the Fernley area also encounters a high number of users.

Canals are not clean nor are they safe.

Broken glass, sharp rocks, bad undertow currents near cross-structures present safety concerns.

The canals also carry high levels of bacteria. Nothing can be as unappetizing as sucking in a big gulp of water that has carried an animal carcass downstream. Furthermore, runoff from farmers’ lands carries herbicides and pesticides into the water.

Although local ordinances do not prohibit swimming in the canal, federal law does. The canal system is part of the U.S. Government’s Newlands Project, and trespassing inside the easement where the canals wind through the valley is illegal.

When TCID officials or a sheriff’s deputy advises swimmers of the federal law, swimmers leave the canal without incident. Canals are a lifeline for the farmers and ranchers in this part of Nevada, and by using common sense, swimmers can avoid the dangers associated with the canals and not become a deadly statistic.

We have been very lucky that more people haven’t drowned in one of ours canals; however, it also seems like we experience at least one death in the canals, each situation avoidable. Almost five years ago, a California woman drowned in the T-Line Canal while trying to retrieve an all-terrain vehicle that had rolled into the water. Four years ago, a 57-year-old Fallon woman drowned in the A-line canal near Bottom Road and Strasdin Lane trying to retrieve her dog who wiggled loose from his collar, and several eyars ago a 6-year-old boy drowned in an irrigation canal near Allen Road. TCID or the local deputies aren’t trying to be mean and limit cooling off during these sizzling days of summer.

They don’t want anyone hurt or killed.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays. This editorial was first written four years ago and reprinted each year to warn people about the dangers of our canals.


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