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Operation Dry Water launched for 2017

ORILLIA - Drinking and boating accounts for approximately 40 per cent of boating-related fatalities on Canadian waterways. 

To raise awareness and reduce alcohol-related deaths, the OPP is partnering with the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) to launch year five of an initiative called “Operation Dry Water.” 

Its goal is to discourage the dangerous practice of boating while impaired by alcohol.

With the summer boating season in high gear, August is the perfect time to remind Canadian boaters about the risks of impaired boating.

“Combined with sun, wind, waves and the rocking motion of the boat, the effects of alcohol on the water can be greatly increased,” states a joint press release from the CSBC and the OPP.

The agencies are aiming to raise attention about the issue of boating under the influence. While the responsibility of law enforcement on the water falls on police, the responsibility to ensure waterways are a safe place to work and play is shared by all boaters, the release states. Alcohol and drug impairment continue to be a factor in boating deaths and injuries.

Similar to the efforts on roadways, “We all have a role to play,” the release notes.

Operation Dry Water focuses on the potential risks of impaired boating and opportunities to discourage it. Being charged with Impaired Operation of a Vessel carries the same consequences as Impaired Operation of a Motor Vehicle and in Ontario that includes a suspension of vehicle driving privileges. Upon conviction, a judge may prohibit operating a boat for a period of time and the repercussions of a criminal impairment conviction can go far beyond the initial incident.  

In Ontario, no alcohol can be consumed by anyone onboard while a boat is underway. Only boats with permanent sleeping, cooking and washroom facilities onboard may permit consumption but only when docked or at anchor. Never boat under the influence.

Operation Dry Water’s target is to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents and fatalities on the water while fostering education and discussions that promote and create a visible deterrent to alcohol use while boating. The end goal is a safer and more enjoyable experience on the water for everyone. 

Wellington County OPP have several officers trained on marine patrol and they have dedicated over 275 hours on county waterways since the beginning of the summer, ensuring boat operators and passengers are complying with regulations.

Since June 1, Wellington County OPP report the following information from patrols on the water:

  • - 885 vessels checked;
  • - two charges for over 80;
  • - two charges for other Criminal Code offenses (Dangerous Operation of a Vessel);
  • - give Liquor Licence Act charges;
  • - four Marine charges; and
  • - 10 Provincial Offences.

Provincial Offences were issued to individuals not having life jackets. Wellington County OPP are reminding people requirements while on the water:

  • - a life jacket for everyone in the boat;
  • - bailing bucket;
  • - throw line;
  • - whistle; and
  • - flashlight.

For more information, visit the CSBC website at

August 11, 2017


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