Release For Immediate Use – June 25, 2018
Contact: Roger Batt: (208) 412-5760 or (208) 888-0988
With the irrigation season in full swing, Treasure Valley irrigation system operators are cautioning residents not to block access to the network of canals, ditches and drains that crisscross the valley.
“These access roads are critical to rescue or recovery efforts when someone has fallen into a canal or ditch. It is also crucial that maintenance crews are able to get to canal and ditch banks to make sure they can deal with anything that may threatening private property, such as a canal break from a gopher hole,” said Roger Batt, executive director of the Treasure Valley Water Users Association.
Idaho Law recognizes the importance of safe and efficient operations of our irrigation systems by authorizing irrigation delivery entities to have access along canal and ditch banks to remove anything that blocks access to the easement area and to prohibit activities which will unreasonably interfere with the maintenance of the canal or ditch. This includes buildings, parking areas, fences, landscaping and other structures or activities.
Easements also allow irrigation employees to have access to monitor and adjust water flows, and to be able to properly repair, maintain and operate canals and ditches through the removal of sediment, debris, trees, shrubs and other vegetation.
“It can be very troubling for property owners, especially new area residents, to see an Irrigation District crew driving a pickup or moving heavy equipment along a canal bank on what the property owners feels is their land, Batt added. “But the owner needs to know that the canal maintenance workers are actually using an existing easement or their District may own the land or a portion of the land along those banks.”
Batt noted that property owners can also get very annoyed when they see a canal maintenance crew cutting down trees or removing bushes on a canal bank or using a trackhoe to dump material from the canal onto the banks.
“That type of maintenance is very important and necessary. Trees or shrubs on the banks can droop or fall into the canal and obstruct water flows. Tree roots can rob the system of water and cause seepage to the bank which could eventually cause a rupture in the canal. Those kinds of situations can pose a real danger to public safety and personal property,” Batt explained.
It is also important to note that irrigation delivery entities may actually own the lands along the canals, ditches and drains making these lands private property and not to be accessed by anyone except the irrigation delivery entity.
“Many times we see people walking and riding horses, bikes and off-road vehicles along our canals and ditches. These areas may be private property owned by the irrigation delivery entity and folks should not be on these banks walking, riding or recreating,” said Batt. “It is also dangerous to be on a canal or ditch bank because if someone falls in they could get seriously injured or even drown. We have several drownings each year due to people falling in or swimming in canals and many of these waters are deep and very swift.”
Property owners whose land is next to a canal or a ditch should check with their local Irrigation District or Canal or Ditch Company for more information on the specific easement or right-of-way that applies to their property.
It is also very important if property owners plan to do any construction, landscaping, fencing, etc. along or near the canal or ditch that they check with the irrigation entity first. Canal and ditch right-of-ways and easement information can also be found on the plot plat of the deed to the property.
“Our area’s Irrigation delivery entities want to be good neighbors. Our experience is that the vast majority of issues involving easements can be worked out for both sides,” Batt stated.
For more information about the repair, maintenance and operations of canals and ditches in the Treasure Valley visit our website at www.treasurevalleywaterusers.com or logon to our Face Book page @TreasureValleyWaterUsers.
1. The roads on the banks on both sides of this Treasure Valley canal are private property belonging to the irrigation delivery system and are not public thoroughfares. The roads give the irrigation entity access to the canal for maintenance, water delivery system adjustments and repairs. (TVWUA Photo)
2. An Irrigation District TracHoe removes brush and other debris from a Treasure Valley canal bank as part of a regular safety and operational maintenance program. Trees, brush and other obstacles can affect the canal flow and in worst cases could actually cause water to back up and flood nearby properties. Right of ways and easements are used to provide the heavy equipment access to the canal banks. (TVWUA Photo)