Swimmers face dangers in canals, rivers

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Near the end of May, the Reno Fire Department rescued three people who fell from their raft into the swift-moving Truckee River.

Just the month before, rescues crews pulled a person from the same river.

These two incidents are only a prelude to what may happen on the three major rivers in western Nevada: Truckee, Carson and Walker.

Fire departments and rescue squads from many eastern California and Nevada counties to include Churchill are on standby in case a river-rescue must be undertaken. In Churchill County, not only are emergency crews poised to conduct a river or canal rescue, but they are also on standby to help the state and Lyon County at Lahontan Reservoir, where a young boy drowned seven years ago.

Lahontan Reservoir is seeing its highest levels since 2012, and it’s important for campers this summer — especially during the long Fourth of July weekend — to be vigilant and to keep an eye on the youngsters so a situation involving a tragedy does not repeat itself. As for the youngsters, don’t allow them to wander away from camp without supervision.

The rivers, canals and reservoir with their cold, runoff waters are more of a threat now than in late summer. Lahontan Reservoir is nearing its capacity after sending much of its water down the Carson River past Tarzyn Road, the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge and into the desert south of an emergency weir and spillway constructed at the V-line canal.

Every year, the Truckee Carson Irrigation District advises residents and visitors not to cool off in one of the area’s many canals. They are dangerous with their currents and undertow.

Additionally, the canals contain high levels of bacteria and runoff from farmers’ lands that carry dangerous chemicals into the water.

The canals are part of the federally administered Newlands Project, and the U.S. government prohibits trespassing inside the easement where the canals wind through the valley.

Both TCID, the Bureau of Reclamation and local law enforcement warn people that swimming in any canal is dangerous and illegal; furthermore, diving into a canal is also not wise, especially when murky water hides any obstacles that could kill or paralyze a victim.

We know of at least three people — including a child — who drowned in one of the area canals during the past eight years.

Use common sense this spring and summer and don’t place yourself in a compromising situation that could cost you your life.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.


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