Every year, children and adults drown in canals.
The Canal Safety Challenge invites you to submit innovative and cost-effective ideas to improve public safety and reduce drownings in canals throughout the United States. The Canal Safety Challenge is being run in partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation, Klamath Irrigation District, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and Denver Water.
The Bureau of Reclamation maintains approximately 8,000 miles of canals in the Western United States. Water in those canals irrigates 10 million acres of farmland and serves one in five western farmers. 31 million people use 10 trillion gallons of Reclamation water for municipal, residential, and industrial uses.
Canals can look like an inviting place to swim or play, but the water can be cold and swift. Steep, slippery canal walls make it difficult to climb out of a canal once a person or animal has entered it. While fences and other barriers can be effective solutions, they may not be cost-effective or practical in all situations.
Most Reclamation canals were built in remote, rural areas. Over the years, increasing populations and expanding communities near these canals has resulted in approximately 1,000 miles of Reclamation canals in urbanized areas. With urbanization comes additional risks of drowning.
This challenge seeks innovative concepts, methods, and technologies to reduce public safety incidents and drownings in canals. Solutions involving ladders, ropes, signage, and the like have been implemented, and educational outreach has been conducted to spread awareness regarding canal safety; however, additional innovative concepts beyond these strategies may further reduce the public risk around Reclamation-owned canals.