Drownings and near-drownings are always tragic, and first responders and media throughout Arizona make an annual effort to highlight pool, lake and canal safety to prevent these events from occurring. At Central Arizona Project (CAP), the safety of our employees, neighbors and wildlife along the CAP canal system is among our highest priorities.
For this reason, the CAP canal is fenced, posted with ‘keep out’ signs and patrolled and monitored by our Protective Services agents. All of our employees keep a vigilant eye out as they travel and work along the CAP canal. It is a significant effort for a system that stretches 336 miles from the Colorado River at Lake Havasu to our southernmost customers near Tucson. However, it’s an effort that we undertake to safeguard our infrastructure and water supply, and discourage unauthorized and unsafe use of the canal.
The CAP canal is designed to efficiently deliver water to communities in central and southern Arizona. As a result, water in the canal is almost always on the move at approximately 2.5 miles per hour. While that may not seem fast, consider that dangerous riptides along the seashore may move at only half that speed. Additionally, the sides of the canal are smooth where water is flowing and are difficult to grip; a dangerous combination if a person or animal finds themselves in the canal. In fact, when our crews work in or near the canal, they utilize special equipment, including life preservers, that allows them to conduct their jobs safely.
To reinforce canal safety messages to children, our Board of Directors has emphasized that CAP’s free youth education programs must include warnings about the safety hazards of canals. A lesson about canal safety is included in our H2O4U lesson plans for grades 6-12.
We encourage parents and teachers to emphasize that the CAP system, and all other water delivery canal systems, are not safe places to play. We hope adults will exercise the same caution and always remain outside the CAP fences.