2024 N.W. Beech Street
Madras, Oregon 97741
(541) 475-3625 (24 hrs)
(541) 475-3652
(541) 475-3905 (fax)

Canal Safety

Bend Bulletin - Guest Column: Stay Out Of Irrigation Canals


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 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.


altCanal Safety Assemblies were 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 3 local elementary schools. After a brief talk is given to the students about canals and the dangers of them, the students are shown a short video called “Otto the Otter’s Scary Rescue”. Discussion with the students on alternative ways to cool off during the warm weather follows the video and bilingual Otto the Otter coloring books are distributed to each student at the end of the presentation. If you are interested in the Canal Safety program and would like to have a presentation, please contact Carla Bridges at the NUID office (541) 475-3625.





Otto the Otter


Click here for an Otto the Otter Canal Safety Coloring Book in PDF format from the Bureau of Reclamation (2.4mb)