AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Fourth of July weekend is always a busy time on Austin’s many lakes. But the Austin Police Department Lake Patrol crew said it has not only been busier on holidays but nearly every day lately.
“A row of about 10 boats all lined up, tied off together, and there’s at least maybe eight rows of that in here,” Lake Patrol Officer Bradley Smith said.
It’s something Smith has never seen in his eight years patrolling the lakes.
“Holidays have always been busy, but as far as traffic through the normal summer months, it’s been significantly increased,” Smith said.
Smith said the lake patrol was seeing more new boats on the waters — 40% more, to be exact.
“Boats have been hard to get because of the demand, and probably people are finally getting access to those boats, and now they’re getting them out here on the water,” Smith said.
With that increase in boaters comes an increase in both calls and citations.
“Plane crashes, boat crashes, drownings. We’ve taken a lot out here,” Smith said.
It can become harder and harder to stay afloat with all the demand because of the limited number of officers they have.
“We have six officers on lake patrol unit, and we patrol three lakes. We patrol Lake Austin, Lady Bird and Decker Lake,” Smith said.
With no boating relief in sight, Smith said it’s all hands on deck for the foreseeable future.
“We’re run thin, but we’re doing what we can with what we got,” he added.