HCWA promoting Safe Boating Week (May 18-24) to reservoir guests

The Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) enforces boating safety throughout the fishing season on its reservoirs, two of which – the Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga – are open to the public for fishing and boating currently; but those efforts are especially timely during Safe Boating Week, recognized nationally May 18-24, 2024.

To provide additional incentives for reservoir customers to embrace safe boating rules and regulations, the HCWA staff is distributing gift bags as rewards for safe boating behavior during Safe Boating Week. 

Ken Presley, HCWA Reservoirs Manager, notes that Georgia is ranked within the top 10 states in the U.S. with the most boating accidents annually – a ranking the Authority hopes to improve by advocating and enforcing safe boating practices. 

In addition to promoting and rewarding safe boating behaviors during Safe Boating Week, the HCWA has a new life jacket loaner station at its Tussahaw Reservoir to provide free life jacket use for those fishing or boating on the Authority’s reservoirs, who do not have life jackets with them upon arrival.

The Tussahaw life jacket loaner station was constructed in late February by local youth participating in the Henry County Police Department (HCPD) Explorers program. This project between the HCWA and Henry County Police also included personnel from Henry County 911, Henry County Fire and Rescue, and Game Wardens from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Life jacket loaner stations are something we learned about during our National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) Boaters Ed Instructors training we took part in recently at Lake Lanier,” says Todd Brackin, HCWA Conservation Enforcement, who is on staff at the Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center. “I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for some team building with our partners at the Henry County Police Department and their Explorers group.”

The Tussahaw life jacket loaner station offers the free use of life jackets to anyone boating on HCWA reservoirs. Sizes range from Youth to XXL Adult, and they are available on a first come, first served basis. Southside Sportsman provided the initial collection of life jackets, while the HCWA plans to maintain and replace these donated life jackets, as needed.

Following the life jacket loaner station construction and installation at the Tussahaw Reservoir, Brackin and DNR Game Wardens took the kids in the Explorers group out on the water to begin educating them right away on boater safety, natural resources protection, and “law enforcement off the pavement” topics.

“This event was a huge hit with our Explorers, and some of them rode in a boat for the first time ever,” says Officer Jason Valentine, an event organizer with the HCPD Explorers program. “They seemed to like the sense of community service and the accomplishment of building the life jacket station. I have not seen our Explorers this excited in a long time, and we look forward to future joint endeavors with the Henry County Water Authority.”

Jay Patel, one of the young Henry County Police Explorers taking part in the life jacket loaner station construction and installation project, confirmed Officer Valentine’s assessment of how much the group enjoyed advocating for boater safety by making life jackets accessible to all customers and guests enjoying fishing and boating on HCWA reservoirs.

“We had so much fun at the Tussahaw Reservoir,” he said, following completion of the life jacket loaner station. “They (the HCWA Reservoirs staff) gave us a tour of the lake and the water plant, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to work with them during such a fun day.”

Matt Bramblett, a Georgia DNR Game Warden, echoed the mission of the HCWA Tussahaw Reservoir life jacket loaner station and the spirit of Safe Boating Week when he reminded boaters that their safety was the top priority of the Explorers group project.

“Don’t let a great day on the water turn terrible,” says Bramblett. “Always have your safety equipment and wear your life jacket!” 

National Safe Boating Week is the annual kick off for the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible. The Safe Boating Campaign is produced under a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which is administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The campaign offers a variety of free and paid resources to support local boating safety education efforts. Learn more at 

Captions for photos (from top to bottom):

1. Todd Brackin (left), HCWA Conservation Enforcement, and Lorenzo Bennett (right), HCWA Naturalist, distribute gift bags to the Authority’s reservoir use customers as incentives for safe boating behaviors during National Safe Boating Week.

2. Participants in the Henry County Police Explorers program celebrate their completion and installation of a life jacket loaner station at the HCWA Tussahaw Reservoir, which represents another effort by the Authority to promote safe boating behavior among reservoir guests.

3. Georgia DNR Game Wardens and HCWA staff take students from the HCPD Explorers program out on the Tussahaw Reservoir to educate them about boater safety, natural resources protection, and “law enforcement off the pavement” topics.

4. Youth with the Henry County Police Explorers program construct a life jacket loaner station at the HCWA Tussahaw Reservoir.


Media Contact:     Chris Wood, Ph.D.

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