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DES MOINES – More than 700 vessels containing more than 2,200 boaters were contacted as part of Operation Dry Water during the weekend of June 25-26.
The effort to focus on enforcement of Iowa’s boating while intoxicated law is intended to draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence going into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, traditionally one of the busiest times for vessels on Iowa waters.
In all, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources along with partner agencies issued 227 citations or warnings during the Operation Dry Water campaign. While most of the violations and warnings involved having the proper safety equipment onboard, a total of 10 boating while intoxicated arrests were made during the effort.
The waters targeted for this year’s effort were Coralville Reservoir, the Mississippi River, Brushy Creek Lake, Lake Manawa, Okoboji, Saylorville Reservoir and the Missouri River. The DNR received assistance in the effort from the Illinois, Wisconsin, and Nebraska DNR, Iowa State Patrol, local sheriffs and police departments and county conservation boards.
The Operation Dry Water effort resulted in 381 boaters being contact and 161 citations or warning being issued a year ago.
Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa DNR, said Operation Dry Water is an important mission to heighten boating safety awareness prior to the busy Fourth of July holiday.
“One-third of all boating fatalities nationally involved alcohol and many of those victims were innocent bystanders,” Stocker said.
Iowa fares even worse than the national average with approximately half of the boating-related fatalities involving alcohol.
“The effects of alcohol can be intensified when combined with wind and wave action and an extended time spent in the sun. Operators may not think they are under the influence, but their judgment, reaction time, balance and vision indicate that they are,” Stocker said.
There are slightly less than 220,000 registered boats in Iowa.