Park County Sheriff's Office: Be Cautious Around Canals

Park County Sheriff’s Office: Be Cautious Around Canals

Written by on April 28, 2022

Park County’s irrigation canals are filling and flowing for summer, so the Park County Sheriff’s Office reminds everyone to stay safe around the water.

Last week, the Park County Sheriff’s Office posted an annual reminder for Park County residents on Facebook. With summer approaching and school almost out, there’s a higher risk of incidents in the county’s irrigation canals.

Many residents of Park County depend on the water from irrigation canals, everyone from hobby gardeners to our local farmers. With the arrival of the much-anticipated spring season, it is a good time for everyone to review irrigation canal safety and the appropriate uses of irrigation water.

Courtesy Park County Sheriff’s Office

There are thousands of miles of irrigation canals in Wyoming, and all residents need to be aware of the dangers of these waterways.

In addition to the drowning potential, ingesting irrigation water from these canals can result in serious risks to a person’s health.

For health and safety around irrigation water and canals, residents should:

  1. Never swim or allow children to swim in canals. Canals are dangerous due to slippery banks, diversions, and fluctuating currents.
  2. Do not allow children to play near canals. Also, do not walk along the banks or edges of canals, which can be very slick.
  3. Never jump in to rescue pets nor to retrieve toys or other objects. Instead, call 911 for help.
  4. Obey all posted warning signs. If walking, jogging, or biking along canals, keep a safe distance from the edges of the flowing water.
  5. Never use canal irrigation water to fill swimming pools, “kiddie” pools, hot tubs, bathing, or drinking. Water from canals can contain agricultural runoff, bacteria, protozoans, chemicals, fecal material from animals, or other contaminants that can cause serious illness.
  6. Label all standpipes from irrigation piped systems that use canal water with the words “NON-POTABLE – DO NOT DRINK.” Irrigation water for edible crops and/or gardens should not come into direct contact with the plant’s edible parts unless the crop is peeled, skinned, or cooked before eating.
  7. Never connect piping using irrigation water with freshwater potable water systems. Canal water is not chlorinated and can pollute drinking water systems.

Irrigation water is essential to Wyoming agriculture, which is its intended purpose.

“Any other use of irrigation water can be hazardous or pose a serious public health risk. So please, remember to be safe around Wyoming canals and irrigation ditches,” the Park County Sheriff’s Office cautions.

While summer might see irrigation canals flowing at their fullest, the waterways are dangerous at any time of year. Last October, an off-duty Park County Sheriff’s deputy saved two teens after their A.T.V. crashed into a canal near Powell.

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