Water levels are at records highs, which case a number of safety issues. Attached is a press release from Sargent Westveer, Ottawa County Sheriffs office urging caution and safe practices when enjoying the area water ways.
From: Sgt. Eric Westveer, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office
Re: High Water Levels and Safe Boating/Swimming
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit would like to remind everyone who will be enjoying the waterways to do so with caution as water levels are higher than normal. Over the past few years we have seen increased amount of precipitation leading to higher than average water levels in our lakes, rivers and streams. These higher than average water levels have created many safety concerns including ESD (Electrical Shock Drowning) and floating debris, as well as property damage to the shorelines with erosion, flooding, and damage to docks and seawalls.
The Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit asks that boaters use caution when navigating the waterways as we have received numerous reports of floating debris, large trees that have been uprooted and portions of docks that have broken away. These unseen dangers can be hazardous to boat operations as well as recreational watersports. Boaters are also asked to know their waterways and local Slow No Wake areas. With the water levels being higher than normal wake from the boats are creating erosion along the shoreline and seawalls. Even in areas that are not controlled as Slow No Wake we are asking that you be mindful of the wake your vessel produces and the effect that is has on the shoreline. As a reminder, every boater is responsible for the wake their vessel produces regardless if they are in or out of a Slow No Wake Zone.
We also want to remind swimmers and Marina users of the increased danger of Electrical Shock Drowning, or ESD. This occurs when electrical current enters the water way creating an electrical charge. This generally occurs around docks and marinas that have electric on their docks. When this current enters the water it energizes the water, individuals swimming can then be electrocuted causing them to drown. With the high water levels this risk is increased as a majority of docks, including the wring, are close to or under water. We have also been monitoring the water levels around the Piers in Holland and Grand Haven. At both locations the water is within inches of the top and at some locations over the top of the piers. We want to emphasize the safety needed on these structures. The water on the top can create slippery and hazardous situations and ask that you use with extreme care to prevent falls. Also be mindful that even the smallest of waves will now wash over the top of the pier creating the potential for being swept off.
The Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit would like to remind everyone using the waters this summer season to practice water safety by wearing lifejackets, limiting alcohol consumption, knowing your abilities as a swimmer and adhering to the warning flags posted at the beaches.
Sgt. Eric Westveer
Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office