Operation Dry Water: DNR out on the lakes for nationwide effort to keep boaters safe

PEWAUKEE -- This weekend is Operation Dry Water. It's an annual nationwide effort to keep boaters safe on the water.

As we exit June and enter July, Wisconsin splashes into prime boating season.

"A lot of people have off that whole week of work before 4th of July and so we find that this weekend is actually when the lakes really start getting busy," said Matthe Groppi, Wisconsin DNR Conservation Warden.

Happy to finally see some summer sun, throngs of swimsuit-clad recreators are hitting area beaches and lakes. As they do, they'll be under a watchful eye.

"Every agency that has jurisdiction on a lake or on the water is going to be out working this weekend," said Groppi.

It's all part of Operation Dry Water.

"Flooding the area, getting out there making awareness," said Peter Carlson, Wisconsin DNR Conservation Warden.

FOX6 News tagged along with a pair of the DNR's conservation wardens patrolling Pewaukee Lake on Saturday afternoon, June 27th. They say the weekends focus is on enforcing OWI laws, but also about education.

"We look for violations whether it's safety related, registration," said Groppi.

The campaign kicked off on Friday, June 26th and by Friday night, the two already arrested one boater.

"The boater was operating with no lights on at all and then we stopped them, the operator was intoxicated," said Groppi.

Groppi says alcohol is a leading contributing factor to boating fatalities nationwide. Operating under the influence while behind the wheel of a boat is just as illegal as it is in your own car. And it comes with the risk of drowning.

"The big point of emphasis is to make sure that people stay safe, they stay sober, and they have all the required safety equipment," said Groppi.

This weekend is the 7th annual nationwide Operation Dry Water. You'll continue to see various agencies out patrolling through Sunday.