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Irrigators warned to keep water off roadways

Property owners can be held liable if water causes crashes

BEND, Ore. – The rhythmic purr of sprinklers watering lawns and agricultural fields is one of the many signals that spring has arrived in Oregon. Yet, while daytime temperatures feel ripe for sunbathing, overnight temperatures continue to dip below freezing.

This mix of cold temperatures and standing irrigation runoff on roadways is the recipe for slippery conditions for late night and early morning drivers.

Even when weather has been dry, icy patches can surprise motorists in shady areas and where water from agricultural and urban over-irrigation has collected.

"Cars drive through puddles and spray water across the roadway. With our current overnight temperatures, that water freezes into sheets of ice and creates treacherous driving conditions for folks expecting dry pavement," said Pat Creedican, Bend District manager with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

"We are also seeing over-watering occurring near commercial and residential properties right in town," Creedican added. "Drivers are not expecting ice because the weather has been so nice, so they're taken by surprise when they hit an icy patch caused by a sprinkler system."

Over watering can be hazardous to daytime drivers as well. Standing water on roadways can cause motorists to hydroplane and momentarily loose control of their vehicles.

ODOT reminds all irrigation users to check their systems to ensure that they are not spraying water onto the road or over-watering and flooding roadways. It is illegal to place water on highway rights-of way without written permission. Property owners can be held liable in the event of an accident caused by water on the roadway.

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