Douglas County Sheriff patrolling area waterways

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office will be monitoring activity on rivers and lakes across the county.
Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 5:41 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department wants those who take to the water to know that they will be monitoring activity on lakes and rivers in the county.

The addition of a third boat earlier this week will help ensure everyone is following the rules on the water.

Nicole Galley likes taking her daughter Abby to Flanagan Lake at 168th and Fort Street.

“It’s nice today,” Galley said. “It’s not super windy so, one of us was able to paddle easy.”

Nicole said they always have safety in mind because it’s a quiet area.

“There’s nobody. If we tipped over, it would be us fending for ourselves. We carry our cell phones with us, we carry our life jackets.”

Christy Christiansen with Nebraska Game and Parks says knowing the basics of boating safety is incredibly important.

“A lot of us are like, ‘Oh, I’m in a boat, it’s not going to tip over,’ but things can happen, and you just never know,” Christiansen said.

The addition of a third boat earlier this week will help ensure everyone is following the rules on the water.

Christiansen was at Cunningham Lake teaching kids from a Council Bluffs camp about boating safety.

“In the State of Nebraska it’s 13 years and younger are required to wear the life jacket all the time but if you are on a vessel, any type of vessel, you have to one life jacket per person on board, and it has to be within reach,” she said.

Those rules also apply to private lakes, like Newport Landing lake near Bennington.

A private/public partnership with the Papio Natural Resources District some years ago created the private lake.

Still, those with a house abutting the lake, are not exempt from the rules

“The resources district owns the water,” Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said. “So, what we want to do is get on a lake and do some proactive policing. But some people in the neighborhood feel that it’s a private lake therefore I don’t have to register my boat, I don’t have to follow boating laws like no drinking and driving but all those rules apply on a boat and in those neighborhoods as well.”

Hudson said all waterways in the county - lakes and rivers - fall under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s department.

Nicole Galley said an increased presence by the sheriff’s department on area waters can help keep everyone safe.

“I think it’s a good idea,” she said. “I think just keeping everybody safe out here this area is going to have a lot more people now, they’re building apartments here now and you’ve got the houses going up...just with more people and being the summer, we’re getting more people out here, I think it’s a great idea.”

A spokesman for the Papio NRD says lakes created in the area to control flooding will never be done through a private/public partnership again.

He said doing so at Newport Landing Lake was a mistake.

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