As visitors head out for 2016 Memorial Day Weekend activities on area waters, the Grand River Dam Authority wants to provide one more reminder to boat (and float) safe, smart and sober.
Due to heavy rains in the watershed over the last several days, the possibility remains that floodgates could be open at Pensacola Dam (Grand Lake) or Robert S. Kerr Dam (Lake Hudson) at some point during the long weekend. If that is the case, GRDA is reminding visitors to stay well clear of the floodgates and buoy lines above the dam, as well as the water releases below the dam.
“We’re asking boaters to stay back at least 200 feet from the dams at all times,” said GRDA Corporate Communications Director Justin Alberty, “and that is really a minimum distance. There is a suction action created when floodgates are open so please, stay well clear of those areas. And down below, in the spillway areas, it is not only against the law to enter floodwater releases it’s also very dangerous.”
Alberty added that, especially in the upper reaches of Grand Lake, there will also be a possibility of some debris in the lake due to the heavy inflows of water.
“The water may be a little higher on the lakes than what would be considered normal for this time of year,” said Alberty. “We certainly encourage you to come and have a great time at the lake, just use common sense.”
If floodgate changes are made, GRDA will make the information available on its website and social media, as well as through bulletins to the area media.
On July 1, GRDA will officially absorb the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC), which manages the Illinois River, another popular floating and recreation destination. Alberty said those planning a river visit this weekend should also check the latest conditions before floating.
“The OSRC’s rule of thumb is if the river water is brown, it’s too high and running too fast for most floaters,” said Alberty. “But things do change quickly and river conditions can improve in a short time, so visitors should checkwith the OSRC Office or the float operator for the very latest information.”
Finally, he added that the GRDA Police Department will be joining OSRC Rangers along the river for increased patrols over the weekend, to encourage safe outings, assist visitors and enforce rules and regulations.
“We just want the public to be safe. Come, enjoy the water at the lake and at the river, wear your life jacket, use common sense and have a great Memorial Day Weekend.”
For more information on the GRDA Police or information on how an officer can assist you, contact the department at (918) 256 0911, or visit online at grda.com. If you have an emergency situation on the water, GRDA encourages you to dial 911. If you are on the lake without cell phone service, you can also call for help on Marine Band 16.