Safe Boating Tips For A High Water July 4th at Grand Lake

GRDA Police offer safe boating tips for July 4 holiday

Following a May and June marked by historic, heavy rains across the region, the levels of both Grand Lake and Lake Hudson will be above normal elevations throughout the 2019 July 4th holiday.

It is also likely that floodgates will be open through the holiday as well, at both Pensacola Dam and Robert S. Kerr Dam. 

Due to these current conditions, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is urging boaters to use extreme caution when visiting GRDA’s lakes.

“Both Grand and Hudson lake will be open for business for all those who plan to celebrate our great country’s independence day on the water,” said GRDA Executive Vice President/Chief of Law Enforcement Brian Edwards. “We just stress that everyone uses safe boating practices. While the water in both lakes has begun to clear, boater should always be on the lookout for hazards in the water and be mindful of their surroundings.”

The GRDA Police Department offers the following boating tips to keep in mind during times of elevated lake levels:

  • Be aware of floating debris. Higher lake levels can mean more driftwood and debris floating in the water. Please be on the lookout as you are boating.
  • Watch your wake. With elevated lake levels, boat wakes can roll up onto neighboring properties, and possibly cause damage to areas that are normally above the water line. All boat operators are responsible for their wakes. Be mindful of yours and watch out for your neighbor.
  • Be mindful of the changing shoreline topography and the possibility of now-submerged structures. Things like stumps, picnic tables, retaining walls and other structures typically located along the shoreline may now be submerged due to the lake levels. Use extreme caution and avoid unfamiliar areas of the shoreline.
  • Stay away from floodgates and spillways. There is a chance that floodgates could be open at both Pensacola Dam (Grand Lake) and Robert S. Kerr Dam (Lake Hudson) as you are boating. If that is the case, please observe the buoys designating the spillway areas and allow plenty of distance between those locations and your boat.
  • Do not go into spillway areas below the dam. Please use common sense and stay away from areas below floodgates where water is being released. It is against the law to enter floodwater discharge. Besides, the swift water can be very dangerous.
  • If you need immediate assistance, the GRDA Police recommends you call 911. However, if you are on the boat with no cell phone access, you can use Marine Band 16 to radio for help.

Finally, a good reminder for boating in all conditions: always, always wear your life jacket.

Additionally, it is important that the public make safety a priority in all areas near GRDA hydroelectric facilities.

Also, many people will be out at night to see the Grand Lake fireworks, and it’s important to keep safety in mind.

Whether you are on land or water, the GRDA Police Department wants you to be aware of the following information related to dam safety.

Keep in mind that notifications such as signs, buoys, sirens, fencing and flashing lights are all intended to notify those in the area when floodgates are open, generators are operating or water is rising swiftly.

Also, it is very important to remember that it is against the law to enter into generation and floodwater releases.

The following tips are shared to help keep you safe near GRDA facilities:

  • Signs: Posted at GRDA hydroelectric facility (Pensacola Dam, Robert S. Kerr Dam, and the Salina Pumped Storage Project) to warn of extreme danger in floodgate areas. Please be aware of other signs near GRDA facilities that notify you of no trespassing areas, no diving areas, or unstable footing.
  • Buoys: Red buoys and cabling above and below spillway gates and hydroelectric powerhouses restrict access to dangerous areas associated with power generation or floodgate releases.
  • Flashing Lights: At hydroelectric facilities, the flashing lights are initiated when floodgates are opened or generation is underway.
  • Fencing: In place to identify borders and to restrict access to certain areas near the hydroelectric facilities.
  • Sirens: These are located at various places on the hydroelectric facilities and are utilized prior to the operation of hydroelectric generators and/or floodgates.
  • Finally, If a roadway near the facility is barricaded it is closed to both pedestrians and all vehicles

For more information on the GRDA Police Department and lake safety, or for information on how an officer can assist you, contact the department at (918) 256 0911 or visit us online at

If your July 4 plans include a visit to Grand or Hudson lakes, the GRDA Police Department wants to remind you of some special boating tips to keep in mind during times of elevated lake levels.

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