TroyHenderson, chief of the Brown County Water Improvement District’s Lake Patrol, said “98 percent” of boaters on the lake are good at following the rules.

“Every now and then you’ll have some people from out of town who don’t know the rules and regulations of the lake,” Henderson said as he guided a 21-foot patrol boat toward the lake patrol’s boathouse near the Lake Brownwood dam.

“But once you educate them, 98 percent of the people that get on the lake follow the rules, do the right thing.”

With the summer boating season under way and the July 4 holiday approaching, game wardens and the Lake Patrol remind boaters that impaired boating is against the law. The Lake Patrol and game wardens will participate in a national outreach and enforcement campaign called Operation Dry Water the weekend of June 29-July 1, a press release from the Lake Patrol office states. That will mean extra enforcement on the lake, Henderson said.

Law enforcement will focus on educating boaters about safe boating practices, which includes boating sober and enforcing state laws pertaining to boating under the influence. Operation Dry Water’s goal is to spread awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence and removing impaired operators from the water. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators,  working with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies across the nation and the U.S. Coast Guard, coordinates the operation.

Henderson said there are not a lot of alcohol-impaired boaters on the lake — but it does happen. “We do have a few now and then, during the holiday weekends —Memorial Day Fourth of July, Labor Day,” Henderson said. “There are always two or three who always go to jail for that. They just can’t seem to not do it.

“That’s what this campaign is about: educate them, let them know that we’re going to be really enforcing … maybe that will help deter them.”

Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegals on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and other consequences, the press release from Henderson’s office states. In Texas It is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher — the same as it is to operate a vehicle.

The accidents and tragedies that happen because individuals chose to drive drunk or impaired, on land or on water, are preventable, the release states. The decision lies with the individual on whether they chose to operate a boat or vehicle under the influence.

It is law enforcement’s job to do all it can to ensure the safety of our recreational boaters and paddlers.

Alcohol is the leading factor in recreational boating deaths, and a major contributor to accounts, the release states. Game wardens and Lake Patrol officers encourage boaters to enjoy the boating season to its full extent by being sober, wearing a life jacket and taking a boating education course.

“We strive to make this lake safe,” Henderson said. “Last year, for a lake this size, Brownwood was one of the safest lakes in Texas.”

There were no accidents that led to injuries and no drownings on the lake last year, and “hopefully that will repeat itself,” Henderson said. “We want everybody to be safe.”