Friday, June 14, 2013

Othello and the Canal

Othello is a farming community, with irrigated farms.  When we lived there, much of the infrastructure for this irrigation was new.  This included the Pot Holes Canal which runs through town, and brings life giving water.  The water flows directly to the canal from the Pot Holes Reservoir. 
As a child we drover over the canal to get from town to our home.  I remember the canal was very scary to me.  The sides of the canal are very steep.  "The walls along this part of the Canal are steep but not like cliffs in the other sections of this canal that we passed through."
 As I read the Othello Outlook, there were a couple of incidents involving the canal.  The first involved a laborer, hot from working.  He climbed onto some pipes over the canal, and told his friend, "Watch me swim."  He jumped in with his clothes on, including his shoes.  He did not resurface.  
The other incident from the paper September 20 talks of a car that went through the railing and ended in the canal.  The article relates, "Leo T. Hook, 31, Pasco, had a close call at about 11 p.m. Friday when his 1957 Chevrolet two-door crashed through the railing of the Potholes Canal bridge two and a half miles south of Othello on Radar road.  Hook apparently hit the right hand shoulder about 4 feet from the bridge, then hit the guard rail on the right side of the bridge which turned him around facing the opposite direction, then crashed backward through the middle of the bridge, coming to rest in the water of the canal bank.  The driver was unhurt, though a bridge beam had penetrated through the car.  The bridge incurred $500 damages and Hook's car was demolished.  Hook has been charged with wreckless driving.
This is the bridge over the canal close to our old farm.  I have faint memory of this, of my father showing us the damage in the bridge.
Safety around the canals was a constant worry for parents.  The canal ran behind our house, but I don't remember ever playing close to the canal.  We just didn't go there.  Perhaps my siblings who were older did, but I never did.  To me is was a hill behind our house.  This article about canal safety appeared in the Outlook  July 26, p 2
Water Is Not Always For Fun
Water means fun for the kids, but not always for the parents.
Ken Waud, county extension agent, says, “Without exception, open bodies of water—including irrigation ditches and canals, lakes and streams—claim the lives of many children too young to have yet learned how to swim.  The drift away from their homes, campsites or picnic grounds to play in that interesting fluid which makes so many things bob up and down upon it, and is so much fun to splash in.  Then, a step into a deep hole and life is ended.”
Everett Davis, WSA Extension agricultural engineer, warns that families living in irrigated areas or near open water must provide safety precautions for tots and toddlers.  He offers these suggestions:
A fence enclosure adjacent to the residence is one answer to protecting youngsters who cannot swim.  All gates within the enclosure should have latched high enough to prevent the tots from opening the gates and wondering away. 
I is too costly to install woven wire fences along irrigation ditches and canals or to cover the surface with any type of netting or planking.

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