Lake Travis - Westlake | October 2020

L I V E S L O S T ON THE LAKE

Of the 37 drownings in Lake Travis since 2010 reported by the TPWD, at least: 9 involved a boat or vessel 5 involved alcohol 2 involved boat crashes

Since 2010, there have been at least 37 drowning deaths as of Sept. 13 reported by the Travis County Sheri’s Oce and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department on Lake Travis. SOURCES: TRAVIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE DEPARTMENTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

2010

2011

2012

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2013

*Each dot represents a drowning reported by Travis County Sheri’s Oce and Texas Parks & Wildlife.

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His claims are supported by Cody Jones, Texas Parks & Wildlife Depart- ment’s assistant commander for marine enforcement. Jones said since the pandemic began, Texas saw a substantial increase in the volume of boaters and swimmers on the water. However, there has also been a 68% increase in boating injuries statewide and a 55% increase in water incidents compared to last year, according to a Sept. 4 TPWD news release. “We have seen a boost in the num- ber of Texans on the water this year and, with that unfortunately, has come a sharp increase in the number of water incidents,” Jones said. “Due in part to the public health crisis, more boats and younger, less experi- enced operators have decided to hit the Texas waterways.” Jones said he has been empha- sizing safety precautions in light of the recent spike in boating interest. Boating, Jones said, is not inherently dangerous when done correctly, and a little education can greatly benet Lake Travis has seen a comparable rise in accidents on the water, accord- ing to data from the Travis County Sheri’s Oce. As of Sept. 13, TCSO reported 20 boating accidents on the lake this year so far—an 82% increase from the total accidents in 2019. However, TCSO Lake Patrol Dep- uty Joseph Fair does not necessarily new and veteran boaters. Accidents on the water

DROWNINGS T H ROUGHOU T T E X A S

According to other outdoor rec- reation business owners, boating retailers are not the only industry experiencing a surge in sales. Over the past few months, the demand also grew for kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. Tyler Forbes, a sales associate at Austin Canoe & Kayak’s New Braunfels location, said the com- pany was bombarded with orders this summer, and it has been dicult to keep inventory stocked at its ve locations in the Austin area. The local boom in business is on par with both statewide and national trends. A Sept. 14 report from The National Marine Manufacturers Association stated 47% of marine manufacturers saw a year-over-year increase in new orders, and 15% reported substantial growth in sales. Watkins also runs a marina on Lake Travis, which he said is operating at its highest capacity since at least 2005. Daily volume is not tracked on Lake Travis, and there are no capacity limitations on Texas’ water- ways. Anecdotally, he said the lake is packed on a weekly basis. Though Watkins said the current spike in sales was unprecedented, he noted he has witnessed an annual increase in boating interest through- out the state. Furthermore, as devel- opment and population continue to grow in the Lake Travis region, so does the lake’s popularity.

Lakes including Lake Conroe and Canyon Lake have experienced a comparable number of drownings to Lake Travis since 2010.

Lake Travis

Lake Conroe

Canyon Lake Lake Buchanan

TRAVIS COUNTY WALKER COUNTY COMAL COUNTY BURNET/LLANO COUNTY

37 27 DROWNINGS DROWNINGS 32 DROWNINGS

8 DROWNINGS

SOURCES: TRAVIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE DEPARTMENTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

N E W B O A T S O N T H E WATER New boat registrations have increased in Travis County on an annual basis, according to data from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The TPWD conrmed an expected increase in boat sales by the end of 2020.

1,293

NEW REGISTRATIONS

2017

1,330

2018

NEW REGISTRATIONS

NEW REGISTRATIONS

1,626

2019

626 NEW REGISTRATIONS *

2020

0

500

1,000

1,500

2,000

SOURCES: TRAVIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER *Data was accurate as of Sept. 13. Complete 2020 registration data may be delayed, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Cody Jones, Texas Parks & Wildlife Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement.

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