Build safety holds into deadly canal

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Well, I found out yesterday why so many people are dying in the big PG&E power canal that flows through Auburn! I was riding my bicycle along the berm of that canal several miles upstream from Auburn in a rainstorm, grumbling to myself about the uncomfortable weather, not paying attention, and didn’t track right going into a narrow place between a tree and the canal, bumped the tree, and was launched into the canal. To my surprise, I couldn’t get enough traction on the gunite bank of the berm to crawl out, and I couldn’t reach the rim from the water. I guess I’m here because I’m also a rock climber. I was treading water, washing downstream, beginning to wonder if I was going to make it out of this jam, when my rockclimber’s eye spotted an upstream-facing 1/8-inch edge that I could hook my fingertips onto. It was a seam where 2 gunite applications didn’t quite match. I hooked in with my fingertips and, happily, they held, and the current pulled me in against the berm and up onto the surface. I reached up and grabbed the rim, and was out. My bike had hooked a pedal on the gunite rim, and was hanging there, so I finished my ride before going home. I cannot imagine how someone who was alone and not a rock climber would have gotten out of that canal. PG&E has “driveways” into the ditch every few miles where they bring in their equipment, but the water was so cold I don’t know if I could have lasted that long. I just wonder why, with all these people dying, PG&E hasn’t put any effort at all into providing people who fall into their canal with a way to get back out. PG&E could easily sculpt diagonal upstream-facing ledges in the gunite walls of their canals every 150 feet or so that would allow people who fall in to grab onto handholds and footholds and pull themselves back out. It would be simple and cheap to sculpt those diagonal upstream-facing handhold-foothold ledges into the fresh concrete when they gunite their canals in the autumn.