Canals are not for swimming

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Don’t let the freakish cool weather fool you for a dip one of the area’s irrigation canals.

The dirty and dangerous canals that crisscross the Lahontan Valley are not a viable alternative for people of any age to jump in and beat Nevada’s typically high summer temperatures that could quickly zoom into the low 100s.

While the past two years provided very little water to flow through the canal system, this year situation is different. Even with a slight reduction in water flow enacted by the Truckee Carson Irrigation District, the canals will still be treacherous and a handful of deaths have occurred since 2008 when individuals — for one reason or another — fell victim to the canals’ unforgiving grasp.

At least three deaths in recent memory have occurred in one of the area’s canals, the last one happening four years ago.

Although local ordinances do not prohibit swimming in the canals, federal law does. The canal system in both the Fernley and Fallon areas are part of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Newlands Project, and trespassing inside the easement where the canals wind through the Lahontan Valley is illegal. Also, the pulling of boards and changing of gate settings is prohibited.

Every year officials are busy shooing people out of the cool canal water. Although incidents occur system wide, TCID officials report the majority of people still enjoy using the V-Line canal from Casey to Bottom roads and east toward the Lovelock Highway.

In the Fernley area, the Truckee Canal experiences an increase in the number of swimmers.

Canals also carry high levels of bacteria, and many times TCID or another agency must remove the carcass of an animal that fell into the canal and drowned. If that’s not bad enough, the cultivated lands carry herbicides and pesticides into the canal’s water.

Furthermore, dog owners are foolish and doing their four-legged companions a disservice by removing them from their leashes and allowing the pooches to swim in the canal. Dogs have also drowned in the various canals or become sick because of the bacteria or toxic chemicals.

As with any body of water, such as rivers and canals, many things below the surface that swimmers cannot see that may injure or lead to death. Canal banks are slippery, the rocks are rough and the undertow in the drops may cause drowning.

As we have mentioned before, the Lahotnan Valley canals serve as a lifeline for farmers and ranchers, not as a recreational playground for people wanting to cool off.

Run through the sprinkler or spend a day at the pool. Don’t become a statistic.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.


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