Officials remind public about water safety ahead of holiday weekend

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 7:14 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) -It's a big holiday weekend, and that means more people out on the water. Putting you first, here's what you need to know before hitting the river or lakes this weekend.

KMVT went out with the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office, as they patrolled the river, making sure kayakers had three important things.

A life jacket, a whistle or other noise maker, and an invasive species sticker.

A boat must have those three things, plus a few others.

“Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on board, make sure that the spark arrestor is in good condition, make sure the blower motor is operating properly, so that it can exhaust the fumes out of the boat,” Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ken Mencl stated.

They make dozens of these stops a day, and so far this year, have written about 80 citations, which is above normal for them.

Mencl also issued this reminder.

"As we're rolling into the Fourth of July weekend, obviously we see a lot of alcohol out on the water. We're asking people to have a safe and sober boating weekend as well as a safe and sober boating year," Mencl said.

Now you are allowed to have alcohol on the boat, however, if you are operating the boat while under the influence, you could end up in jail.

They also ask the public to be aware of one spot in particular.

Pillar Falls.

"We see a lot of people who use this as a spot to get out of the river and portage around to kayak up to Shoshone Falls. The biggest dangers we see are people running around on the rocks, not realizing how quick the water flow is over the tops of the rocks, or slick the plant growth is that's attached to the rocks and they end up getting swept up over the tops of the rocks and there's several crevices and deep holes and getting stuck in," Mencl said.

It's even more dangerous than normal, due to the recent search efforts for Austin Carey, in which the water levels were lowered.

“The cubic feet per second has gone up, the Bureau of Reclamation has turned the water back up. The water flows are extremely high right now. With those high water flows coupled with the dynamics of Pillar Falls, the hydrology of the river, the undertows, whatnot, that’s what makes Pillar Falls so dangerous. That’s why you don’t see people from around the world come over here to kayak through here is because of the dangerousness of the Pillars,” Mencl explained.

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