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Canal Safety

Photo of a dock leading out into a lake or other body of water
Photo Credit Marisa Hossick

Let’s get the word out: Canal Safety is for everyone!

Canals are dangerous and should not be used for any recreational activity. Even if the surface water appears smooth and calm, there are many areas where the current can swiftly pull an individual under—especially a child. The canal system and ditch roads of North Unit Irrigation District are considered private property and are not for public use. The district also periodically uses herbicides in the water, which can cause skin irritation.

  • Never swim in irrigation canals.
  • Keep young children and pets away from canals.
  • Never jump in to rescue pets. Call 911 for help.
  • Do not play near or on canal banks. They are steep and can be slippery.

Canal Safety Awareness Program

Canal safety awareness started in 1998 after two drownings in NUID canals in two consecutive years.  In 1999 the canal safety program coordinator and watermaster began presenting the canal safety program annually to second graders in three local elementary schools.  After a brief slide show of dangers in and around canals are discussed, the students are shown a short video entitled “Otto the Otter’s Scary Rescue.”  Following the video students are encouraged to ask questions and provide ideas for alternative ways to stay cool during warm weather days.  Bilingual “Otto the Otter” coloring books are provided for each student and can be downloaded from this website.  If you would like more information or would like to arrange a presentation, please contact the NUID office (541) 475-3625.

Let’s educate and come together!

Wondering where our water comes from and where it goes?

There is a lot to consider when discussing water. We need to think about the wildlife, the vegetation, the cities, and the farms. Central Oregon is unique in how many people from many walks of life have united to form a Shared Vision that considers all these factors when planning for the future of the Deschutes River.

For agriculture, over a century of engineering and collaborative work was necessary to bring water from over 80 miles away to our farmers here in Jefferson County.  And even with this engineering and tact, the irrigation districts, farmers, and ranchers alike depend on rain and snow. The water cycle is constantly in their minds as the rain and snow fills underground aquifers, floods rivers, fills reservoirs, and saturates their fields. Below are some key terms on the water cycle!

North Unit Irrigation District focuses on teaching kids about where the water in the canals come from, why the water is there, and the hidden dangers inherent to transporting such powerfully massive volumes of water. But the District is not the only place focused on our next generation, one of North Unit Irrigation Districts’ partners has led remarkable efforts to cultivate a hands-on experience to “what makes up a watershed, it’s not only water.” The Middle Deschutes Watershed Council focuses on pulling students, K-12, out of the classroom and into the wetlands.  Focused within Jefferson County and Warm Spring, this Council buses these students out to wetlands, riverfronts, creek beds and more to actively experience the wildlife, water quality, vegetation, and more of their watershed.

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