ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With children at home as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ditch & Water Safety Task Force is now urging parents to speak with their children about the importance of staying out of ditches and arroyos. The City of Albuquerque’sAquatics Division Manager Josh Herbert discusses the threat those areas pose.
The Ditch & Water Safety Task Force was formed in 1983 and strives to eliminate ditch and arroyo injuries and deaths through education. The organization includes members of agencies such as the Albuquerque Fire Rescue, Bernalillo County Fire Department, Bernalillo County Aquatics, Albuquerque Public Schools, and the Albuquerque Police Department.
Herbert explains that in discussions with AFR and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District they are reporting an increase in residents visiting the Rio Grande enjoying the warm weather. Herbert says that people are also using the nearby irrigation ditches to cool off.
“It’s very important that if you have a house that has an irrigation channel in the backyard and you have young children, do not leave them unattended,” said Herbert. “No matter the amount of water a child could fall in the water and can drown. So, if there’s a body of water in your backyard whether it’s a water table, a ditch, a stream, a pond, make sure that you have proper supervision out there when your children are playing.
The Task Force reminds New Mexico residents that arroyos and ditches can appear harmless but that flash floods are the state’s number one natural disaster and can occur at any time.
There is a misconception that flash flooding only happens when it’s raining in Albuquerque, however it often rains in the mountains and flash flooding will occur in Albuquerque and the surrounding areas. When flash flooding occurs, water can travel as fast as 40 miles per hour, causing ditches and arroyos to fill rapidly.
Those playing or walking in ditches or arroyos, even when they’re dry, can get caught in a dangerous and even deadly situation. For additional information on ditch safety, visit DitchtheDitches.com.