Personal watercraft ban in effect this weekend on Lake Austin

This weekend is one of the busiest for Austin-area lake traffic. Police are stepping up enforcement to try and make sure it is a safe holiday for everyone on the water. 

There is currently a personal watercraft ban in effect for Lake Austin that will continue until Tuesday morning. It includes jet skis, wet bikes and motorized surfboards. Anyone found in violation of the watercraft ban will be cited for a Class C misdemeanor and could face a fine up to $500.

Police officers said Lake Austin has grown increasingly popular and Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend bring out significant crowds. 

“It is going to be very busy out here this weekend. We ask that everyone out here be mindful of the other boaters and just operate and drive responsibly,” said Senior police officer John O’Donnell Jr., with the Austin Police Department Lake Patrol Unit.  

One thing officers will be looking out for is drunk boat captains.

Anyone behind the throttle with a blood alcohol level higher than .08 will be arrested. “While out on any of the area lakes, if you plan on drinking any alcoholic beverages, we recommend having either a friend that's a designated driver or actually hire a driver to operate your boat,” O’Donnell said.  

Officers said because Lake Austin is fairly narrow, it's important to take it slow and keep an eye out for people in the water. “There's going to be a lot of people either swimming in the lake, that will be in the water wake surfing, skiing, tubing,” said O’Donnell. 

It's important to watch out for propellers while swimming in crowded coves and if you're hanging out near the back of a boat officers said carbon monoxide could be an issue. 

“You want to make sure the engine is in fact off so you aren't breathing in all that carbon monoxide. That could potentially be the silent sleeper,” O’Donnell said.  

Otherwise, officers said just enjoy the holiday weekend responsibly. “We just hope everybody comes out to enjoy the area lakes, has fun, brings out all their family and friends and has a great weekend,” said O’Donnell. 

Lake patrol will be patrolling Lady Bird Lake and Decker Lake as well.

They said any emergencies on the water should be reported to 9-1-1.