Law enforcement increases patrol on waterways - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Law enforcement increases patrol on waterways for weekend to increase safety

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Law enforcement officers are out in full force on Iowa's waterways. It's a part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign. Officers hope to stop drinking and boating and improve overall safety on the water.

Denis Jenkins and his wife just bought a new boat in the fall. They're excited to bond with friends and family on the water. There's one thing Jenkins won't be doing---drinking and boating.

"Operating a boat with alcohol is the same as operating a vehicle out on the streets," said Jenkins.

Officials say it can be more dangerous.

"People don't realize that the wind and the sun and the glare and the elements play an effect and actually enhance the effects of alcohol," said Susan Stocker, Boating Law Administrator with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

That's why law enforcement officials across Iowa teamed up for Operation Dry Water.

"We want to make sure that the people out on the water are safe," said Stocker.

On Coralville Lake, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Johnson County Sheriff's Department, and Army Corps of Engineers did safety checks.

They weren't just looking for drunk boaters. They also made sure each boat had the proper safety equipment:a fire extinguisher, a throwable rescue device, and enough life jackets for each person on board.

"84% of the people that end up in the water and drown are not wearing a life jacket," said Stocker.

If someone didn't have the right equipment, they received a written warning. If it happens again, they'll face a fine.

For those who decided to boat while intoxicated, cars were on shore to take them to Johnson County Jail, which some boaters were glad to hear.

"I think it needs to be enforced," said Jenkins. You don't want people out there driving boats while they're drunk."

Officials hope Operation Dry Water will keep the waterways safe for everyone.

Last year, 10 people died in Iowa in boating accidents. 7 of the deaths involved alcohol.

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