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Officials ask residents 'don't drink and boat' on Arkansas River as levels rise

"If you're on some of our lakes make sure you wear your life jacket. Don't drink and boat. That's the same as drinking and driving."

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — The Little Rock district's U.S. Army Corp of Engineers sent out small craft advisories a month ago to warn small boat users against going out on local rivers, because of the constant rain raising water levels and flows.

They manage the rivers and are responsible for recreation and hydropower throughout the state of Arkansas.

Jay Woods is the public affairs specialist with the Little Rock district's U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. 

He said the Arkansas River is higher than normal right now. 

"It's running at about 127,000 cubic feet per second. We put small craft advisories out whenever the flows get above 70,000 cubic feet per second. With all the rain over in West Arkansas, there is a possibility that the flows could be a little higher throughout the week," said Woods.

This means the small craft effect will remain in effect only until the flows drop.

He says he can't tell people not to go out on small boats for fun. That would be up to the U.S. Army Coast Guide, but he advises people against it since the flows are high.

He says the Arkansas River is notorious for having surprise objects hidden.

"You don't know what's underneath that water. Logs, rocks, trees, and you can get close to what you think might be the bank, but actually, the trees might be out further in the water and you could run into them," said Woods.

He said they try not to predict how long an advisory will go on. It all depends on the weather. It's supposed to rain for a couple more days. 

Once it stops, it takes a few more days for the flow to get down the river past Little Rock where it peaks and goes down.

"If you're on some of our lakes make sure you wear your life jacket. Don't drink and boat. That's the same as drinking and driving. Let people know where you're going to be," said Woods.

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