This page contains a tutorial to help people learn about methods to maintain their safety while flyfishing. It will also help with safety while around bodies of water.
The information here was provided by PG&E to alert our members and the public in general to dangers associated with waters surrounding hydro-electric projects.
Canals are designed to move large amounts of water quickly. They may look like natural streams or even rides at a theme park, but they are not safe for swimming or other forms of recreation. The water may be inviting, especially in the summertime, but beware of the hidden dangers.
- Slippery, steep sides
- Icy cold water
- Swift currents
- Underwater traps
- Fallen debris
- Any of these can spell DANGER.
If you fall into a canal:
- Call for help
- Stay calm; try to float
- Get to the side. Hold on to anything you can grab until help arrives
- Play it safe by staying away from canals. If you drop something in the canal, leave it.
- DANGER–Swift Currents: The water moves fast enough to overpower even the strongest swimmers.
A canal that is shallow in one spot may drop to 12 feet without warning. Steep and slippery canal sides make it impossible to climb out.
DANGER–Icy Cold Water:
Even on the warmest days, the water is so cold that it can weaken a person quickly, making escape impossible.
Always choose safe places to swim.
PG&E maintains many campgrounds and other facilities that are designed for your enjoyment.
Primary Danger Areas
- Swirling water and strong underwater currents
- Sudden unannounced water discharges from automatically-operated gates
- Strong and swift currents over and below spillways
- Strong, deceiving upstream flow in surface waters below the dams
- Slippery surfaces on ledges
- Submerged hazards above and below dams
- Powerful Suction Drains
- Icy, Cold Water
- Steep and Slippery Sides
- Swift Water flowing past grates can pull and trap a person under the water
Pacific Gas and Electric Company operates the largest privately-owned hydroelectric system in the country, stretching through California from close to the Oregon border to Bakersfield, and through the Sierra Mountains. There are 68 powerhouses, 94 dams on 16 river systems, 130 miles of canals and flumes, 120 miles of tunnels, and 30 miles of pipes and penstocks.
Hydroelectric power produces renewable electricity and clean energy. It controls flooding, provides storage for downstream generation and creates significant recreational resources. For boaters and other recreationists, these dams could be dangerous. Changing currents and boiling waves make boat control difficult.
Never take a boat over or under restrictive cables with warning signs or boat restraining systems.
The areas beyond these signs and restraining systems are dangerous. Water levels can change without notice, and create treacherous currents and drowning risks for waders, swimmers, rafters and boaters.
Boaters should always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket. You should also be prepared to get out of the water at a moment’s notice, and plan ahead for your best avenue of escape.
Never fish, swim, canoe or raft alone. Recreationists are cautioned to consider water conditions before entering the river, and should consider wearing a life jacket, even when wading as there is always a chance of stepping or falling into a hole, or of water rising rapidly.
BE AWARE OF RISING WATER...
- Sounds of rushing water intensify
- Exposed rocks, sticks and brush become covered with water
- Increased water velocity
- Wading becomes more difficult as water levels rise
- Water temperatures may be colder than you expect, even on the warmest days
If caught in the water and swept off your feet:
- Stay calm, lie on your back and do not try to stand up. Waders generally trap air inside and may not cause you to sink unless you try to stand.
- Drop any items that can weigh you down
- Keep your feet up and pointed downstream to avoid hitting rocks and to prevent foot entrapment
- Go with the current and move diagonally across the current until you reach shore
- Roll on to dry land to drain boots or waders
- Do not stand until water is out of waders
- If trapped on an island, stay there and signal for help
Hydroelectric Power Plant
The Gold Rush brought lots of opportunity to California. One of the results was the development of hydroelectric power. As water rushed down stream, it was used to create electricity. Hydroelectric power is produced when water runs past turbine blades, making them spin which turns a generator. This method was, and still is, a cost-effective source of energy and efficient use of our natural resources.
Large electric generators at the powerhouses are connected to Pacific Gas and Electric Company's electrical system and respond automatically to various conditions. When the generators start, a torrent of water can be released downstream. During lightning storms, even hundreds of miles away, or equipment failures, generators may shut down.
This can release a rush of water from the powerhouses or over the dams or through automatically controlled spill gates. Be alert for water level changes, even those affected by rain and snowfall. Be aware of your location near or across the stream from the powerhouses, and remember that what was accessible before may not be when the water rises.
For your safety, familiarize yourself with and adhere to all warning signs, strobe lights and sirens. Get to a safe area if you see or hear a warning. For further information call 1-800-743-5000 or visit www.pge.com.