Conservation Officers: Stay Off the Water This Weekend - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Conservation Officers: Stay Off the Water This Weekend

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This first really nice weekend of the summer would have been a perfect time to get out on a boat. It also would have been the annual "Operation Dry Water" safety event, cracking down on drinking and boating. But a rising river has a lot of people spending the weekend on dry land.

"The temperatures are gonna be right, we've got some sunshine," Greg DeKeyser tells us. And he's right. It is a beautiful weekend for boating, but we couldn't find anyone out on the water. In fact, it's difficult to even get to Marquette Street Landing in Davenport, thanks to floodwaters making River Drive just that. The boat ramp at Bettendorf's Leach Park is mostly underwater. The docks in Moline's Sylvan Slough are sitting empty.

And at Sunset Marina in Rock Island, DeKeyser says, "Well, there are a lot of people here. They're just in their boats, not out on the water." He says that's where he's planning on spending his weekend, on his boat in this slip. "Mainly because of the high river levels and the amount of debris that's coming down.

Iowa Conservation Officer Jeff Harrison says, "It's just not safe for officers or anyone else to be out there right now, with the conditions on the river." With high water, hidden debris and a fast current, Officer Harrison says he would close the river if he could. Instead he's asking all boaters to use common sense. "Keep mind, missing a weekend or two out on the water isn't really worth risking your life here." Or those of would-be rescuers if your boat loses power, or worse. "One of the biggest problems we'd have right off the start is launching the boat," Harrison says. "Now we can drop over roadways and stuff like that, but we're putting ourselves in jeopardy. And we're also going to face the same obstacles boaters have out there."

With a crest projected Sunday, and high water expected for days, Harrison tells us that could impact 4th of July boating too. "We really don't want people out anchoring in the channel to try to watch the fireworks this year, because of the fact that the current is going to be so strong if an anchor does break loose, it's liable to push one boat into another and that's when capsize situations are gonna result."

It's a message Greg DeKeyser has heard and understands, saying "We've got four different couples that have reservations on our boat to go out and enjoy fireworks. They put them in a year in advance." But as a Moline firefighter, he's seen what can happen on the river. Why he's probably going to spend his holiday off of it.

If you do head out on a boat, officers remind you to have safety equipment onboard as well, like working cell phones and radios, and life jackets.