Splash Facts

Before you dive, leap into learning important facts about water safety. Read on for information that will help you and your family stay cool and safe around dams, weirs and irrigation channels.

 

  • What is a dam?
    • It’s a big wall constructed across a valley to control the flow or raise the level of water held within a catchment area. Usually, the water from a dam is used for supplying your home, local business and farmers with water.

    • Can I play near a dam?
      • When you are near a dam, always check for signs that warn you of things to be aware of – and ask your friends and family to check for signs too.
    • Can I swim in a dam?
      • To stay safe when swimming in dams, you should try to stay right away from dam walls. Around 100m is a good distance because there are pipes located in the walls which can suck you in and maybe even cause you to drown. Stay safe and stay away!
    • What other activities can I do around or in dams?
  • What is a weir?
    • It’s a steel or concrete barrier constructed across a river or creek that allows water to be slowly released to users downstream.

    • Should I be careful if I’m near a weir?
      • Yes! You never know when water will be released and from which part of the weir it will come from. You should always stay away from weirs, because if you get caught in a big release of water, you could drown.
  • What is a water channel?
    • A water channel is like a passage dug in the ground to send water from one location to another for farmers to use to water their crops.

    • Can I swim in a water channel?
      • Water levels in channels can change very quickly. There are gates that let water in and out of the channels causing the water levels to rise and fall. These gates are very heavy and if one fell on you it would trap you.

        As well as gates, another important thing to know about channels is that because of all the algae in the water, the sides are very slippery – so slippery and steep that it’s almost impossible to climb out if you were swimming or fell in one.

        And, just like dams and weirs, there are pipes under water in channels that can be impossible to see on the surface. It would be very easy to be pulled into one of these and not make it out the other end safely.

  • What are irrigation channels?
    • An irrigation channel is like a passage dug in the ground to send water from one location to another for farmers to use to water their crops.

    • Are there any other dangers of playing near or swimming in irrigation channels?
      • There are many other dangers around irrigation channels for people who do not follow SunWater directions:
        • Snakes, rats and other harmful animals often live in and around the channels
        • People, especially kids, can get tangled in channel weed
        • The water in irrigation channels can be harmful to people. It is safe to use to irrigate fields, but it might contain chemicals or algae that would make anyone who drank it or swam in it sick
        • People can trip on the slippery banks or mossy rocks and hurt themselves really badly
        • The depth of the water is constantly changing in the channels, so diving or jumping into the water can cause very bad injuries
  • What is a pump station?
    • A pump station is a structure containing mechanical and electrical equipment to assist in the movement of water.
  • What is a pipeline?
    • A pipeline is a long pipe that works with pumps, valves, and other control machines to send water from one location to another
  • What is a siphon?
    • A siphon is a pipe that allows an irrigation channel to continue under roads, railways and rivers. These pipes can be really big – more than a metre wide. Often you can’t see them because they’re hidden under the surface of the water.

    • Can I swim near a siphon?
      • When the water travels through the pipes, it can create a powerful sucking action in the channel.

        Though the surface of the water may look safe, there can be a strong undercurrent below that even the best swimmers can’t escape, no matter what precautions they take.

        Anyone who gets in the water near the siphon inlet (the mouth of the pipe) risks being very badly injured. Swimmers can be pinned underwater against the protective screens.

        The flow of water and the strength of the undercurrent around the siphon changes all the time without warning. It’s NEVER safe to swim in an irrigation channel, especially near a siphon.

  • What is regulator gate?
    • Regulator gates are metal gates that control the flow of water between different parts of irrigation channels. Most of the time these gates work all by themselves, without anyone watching them.

      Each regulator weighs as much as three tonnes. When they move, they can trap a person, even an adult, under the water and hurt them very badly.

      Regulator gates are often protected by metal structures.

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