The Merced Irrigation District statement:
For the past couple of months – and especially the past few weeks – Merced Irrigation District has done absolutely everything possible to inform the community of the dangers of cold, high, swift moving streams and rivers that have resulted from increased snowpack and a late spring runoff.
Unfortunately, yesterday several people put themselves in significant jeopardy by entering the Merced River under these very dangerous conditions. As a result, the lives of local emergency responders and law enforcement were also put in significant jeopardy as they were forced to conduct a rescue in these extremely dangerous conditions. We are grateful this incident did not come to a disastrous end.
We are again restating as directly as we possibly can: stay out of the Merced and other rivers, and stay out of irrigation canals. The water is cold, moving fast, and can carry away even the strongest swimmer. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be near the Merced or any other river at this time. We do not want to see one more single incident such as happened on the Merced River yesterday.
For the past two weeks MID has had radio announcements running that warn of the dangers of high-flowing rivers. The District also proactively requested that the local newspaper write a public service article about the dangers of high flowing rivers. That article was published last Friday, June 24. Additionally MID recently worked to have the month of May declared Water and Canal Safety Month in Merced County. The declaration coincided with a public education campaign about the dangers of water and canals. MID staff spoke directly to school-age children, ran media ads, hosted a water safety day, conducted a water safety poster contest and handed out hundreds of children’s life jackets.