Many waterways throughout the Midwest are experiencing lower than average water levels this year. This poses particular hazards to recreational boaters. Areas that were navigable in past months or years may be too shallow to operate in now. River structures such as dikes may be closer to the surface, posing potential grounding threats, and channel widths may be smaller than expected. This can affect all waters in the Mississippi drainage, including the Missouri and Kansas rivers in the Sunflower State.
As a result, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a boating advisory for all waters in the drainage. Boaters should follow simple precautions while using these waters:
- always have approved life jackets for everyone onboard;
- operate in areas you are familiar with, at safe speeds;
- do not operate near fleeting areas, commercial vessels, or barges — larger vessels and structures can create strong eddies, undertows, and wakes;
- do not operate near underwater river structures, such as dikes;
- have light and sound signaling devices onboard;
- tell someone where you are going, when you will be there, and how to contact you to verify your safety; and
- for boating safety tips and classes, contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary for support or visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Boating Education website, ksoutdoors.com/news/Boating/Boating-Education.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism