MAINE, USA — Whether you're in the water or out on the water this holiday weekend, officials are asking you to be smart and safe.
The Maine Warden Service is increasing its boating patrols in waterways across the state this weekend for Operation Dry Water. It's a campaign with a mission to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities.
Game Wardens will be arresting any boaters who are operating impaired, enforcing Maines Headway Speed law, checking for registration, and that boaters have enough lifejackets on board.
According to a news release, Maine Warden Service had more than 80 officers patrolling Maine waters during Operation Dry Water in 2021, which is a year-round effort. The Warden Service had contact with nearly 1,700 boats and arrested one boater with a blood-alcohol level of 0.17.
Arron Rideout is a Bangor-district game warden.
"We as the Maine Warden Service are taking it seriously this weekend and making sure that when we get out there this weekend that we're targeting specifically boating OUI," Rideout said.
Rideout said during safety checks, they also make sure boaters have fire extinguishers and a noise device like a whistle or horn on board. He added it's important for boaters to prepare ahead of time.
"Have a float plan, check the weather before you go out on the water, make sure that there's not going to be bad weather, and if there is bad weather, just avoid going out that day," Rideout said.
He said it's also a good idea to tell someone on land where you'll be going and what time you hope to be back.
The Warden Service is also enforcing the Clean, Dry, and Drain initiative this weekend. Officials are making sure boaters are cleaning off any dirt, mud, or grime that collects on the boat, truck, or trailer when they take it out of the water, draining any water that may be stuck in the boat, and drying off the boat once it's home. This process is all in an effort to prevent the spread of milfoil in the water, which is an invasive aquatic species that Rideout said chokes up the ecosystem and can be deadly to fish and plants.