Imperial Irrigation District

Canal Safety

Stay Away, Stay Alive

Canal Awareness

Imperial Irrigation District (IID) has been serving the water needs for the Imperial Valley for over a century. In 1959, IID established a Water Safety Program for Imperial County elementary schools. Recently, the program has been expanded to reach high schools as well. Now we want to reinforce that message to high school students as they continue to mature and begin to drive. This program is here to remind high schoolers that the dangers of canals are real regardless of how old you are.

A Canal’s Purpose

There are thousands of canals around the Imperial Valley, many next to major roads and intersections, some even next to busy neighborhoods. Canals are not for fishing, boating, or any form of entertainment and they are certainly not for swimming. These local canals exist for agriculture. They are essential for growing the crops that are the lifeblood of our community, that contribute over $2 billion to our economy each year. Canals are vital to our region and should be respected.

Dangers of Canals

Canals may seem calm and inviting at the surface, but it is important not to be fooled by their appearance. Below the surface, canals have very deep trenches with fast-moving currents, sharp rocks, metal debris, and large pipes meant to suck in water that line the bottom. Canals are not like a ditch you can climb out of. The slippery banks, strong currents, and powerful vacuum pipes make escape nearly impossible. Our hope is for high schoolers to remember these dangers as they become adults.

Statistics Vehicles In Canals

As you can see, there were a total of 25 canal drownings in the last three years. The greatest number of drownings occurred to young adults — between the ages of 18 and 30. The other drownings also occurred to adults 30 and over. No drownings occurred to young children, however. It is important to remember that the dangers of canals continue past your childhood and are ever-present to adults of all ages.

Statistics Canal Drownings

In terms of vehicles in canals, there have been at least 19 crashes per year for the last several years. At the top of the list, there was a total of 52 vehicles crashes in 2014 alone.

Distracted Driving and Canals

As you see from the data above, a large number of cars end up in Imperial Valley canals by accident. A large majority of these crashes can be attributed to distracted driving — including texting while driving. The combination of distracted driving and the proximity of local roads to canals is a recipe for disaster. It’s important to drive safely around canals so that you do not become a statistic.

Safety Tips

Never swim in a canal.

Don’t go near a canal.

Never jump into a canal.

Don’t walk, bike, or drive near a canal bank.

Don’t try to retrieve any item that falls into a canal.

Contact Us

If you’d like to know more about IID Water Safety Programs or are a school and would like to schedule a presentation email