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Boat safety and water regulation reminders for Memorial Day weekend

Burn bans also remain in effect for some counties this weekend.

AUSTIN, Texas — Many people will be out on lakes and rivers across Central Texas this weekend for the hot holiday weekend. And although it is good to have fun, you need to make sure to follow safety measures and rules that are in place.

Special regulations are in place on Lake Austin this weekend. From sunset Friday until sunrise on Tuesday, personal motorized watercrafts like jet skis are not allowed to help with safety. This ban is in place on summer holiday weekend on Lake Austin every year. Paddleboard and kayaks are allowed, as well as boats. But if you are boating, the Austin Police Department asks that you always stay on the right side of the river and drive at a reasonable speed.

Another place that will be busy this holiday weekend is Lake Travis. Santos Ramirez, the owner of Keep Austin Wet Watercraft Rentals, said that two of the biggest issues the lake on holiday weekends are inexperienced drivers and issues with alcohol.

He said you should always have an experienced driver, especially on high-traffic days like this weekend. His company has captains for all of the boats that get rented out.

He said you should be wearing a life jacket if you are not a good swimmer or are inebriated. And you should always have enough life jackets on board for everyone.

RELATED: A hot Memorial Day Weekend is on tap

He said in party areas like Devil’s Cove, where we have already seen a death this year, it is important to keep an eye on who you are with.

“We always do the buddy system, that is how we do it, just to make sure,” said Ramirez. “Because that is what happens, things can happen so quickly, so if someone is not a good swimmer, keep an eye on them.”

He also said Lake Travis is really low this year, so areas like Devil’s Cove are more congested, so watch where you are driving and swimming.

Out on the lake, he said if you don’t know the lake well, stay in the middle of the lake or on the cliff side, so you don’t end up in shallow water.

The following are details on the Lake Austin personal motorized watercraft ban for Memorial Day Weekend from Austin Police:

  • A person may not use or possess a jet ski, wet bike, motorized surfboard, or similar device on Lake Austin: (1) from sunset on the Friday before Memorial Day until sunrise on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, (2) from sunset on the Friday before Labor Day until sunrise on the Tuesday after Labor Day; or (3) from sunset on July 3 until sunrise on July 5.
  • A person operating a motorboat on Lake Austin shall stay on the right side of the lake, except when assisting a downed water skier.
  • A person may not operate a watercraft on Lake Austin at a speed that is greater than reasonable and prudent under the existing circumstances.

On Friday, Hays County also issued an emergency burn ban over the holiday weekend. It takes effect at 8 a.m. Saturday and lasts until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

“In consultation with the Hays County Fire Marshal, I believe the current circumstances in the unincorporated areas of Hays County create a public safety hazard that would be exacerbated by outdoor burning,” Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said.

The recommendation was based on the weekend weather forecast, which calls for high winds and extremely low relative humidity.

“Even areas of the county that received beneficial rains earlier this week may see an increase in fire activity,” said Fire Marshal Mark Wobus.

Burn bans also remain in effect in Travis, Mason, Llano, Gillespie and Burnet counties.


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