Susan Stocker says officers had contact with more than 700 vessels during the Operation Dry Water campaign, June 24-26.
“And, unfortunately, that also included 10 boating while intoxicated (BWI) arrests,” Stocker said. 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.
Stocker says Iowa fares worse than the national average — with roughly half of the boating-related fatalities in Iowa involving alcohol.
“Last year, only seven percent of the boating fatalities nationwide involved alcohol,” Stocker said. There were three boating fatalities in Iowa last year and two involved alcohol, according to Stocker. The Operation Dry Water campaign is intended to draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence going into the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“Looking at the weather for this weekend, it looks like it’s going to be ideal for people to enjoy the outdoors,” Stocker said. “Nationally, unfortunately, (the July 4 holiday) is one of the deadliest holidays on the nation’s waterways.”
In addition to the 10 BWI arrests last weekend, the Iowa DNR and other agencies issued 227 citations or warnings. Stocker said most of the violations and warnings involved not having the proper safety equipment onboard. There are slightly less than 220,000 registered boats in Iowa.