It's the first weekend of summer, raft rental companies have finally opened their doors. In anticipation of people flocking to the river, the Bureau of Reclamation has reduced water releases from Folsom Dam by 4200 cubic feet per second.
However, people still need to be cautious about how they behave on the American River.
“It’s still a lot of water..its still running fast..and its still very cold,” says Pete Lucero, Public Information Officer for the Bureau of Reclamation.
Four rescue boats are patrolling the river today and fire crews are manning various raft launches to make sure people are wearing life jackets. Unfortunately, many people are choosing not to rent their rafts and are instead bringing their own.
“What we have in this case is pool toys being used on river which is absolutely not safe under any circumstances,” says Chris Holbrook, Assistant Sacramento Metro Fire Department Chief.
Chief Holbrook recommends renting a raft. Dave Hill, owner of American RIver Raft rentals says his are made for the river. “They’re very heavy duty..multiple air chambers,” he says.
The store-bought rafts are mostly made of vinyl and are very easy to snag or tear. Next month, Sacramento’s Regional Fire Department may be forced to pull its rescue boats out of the water due to budget cuts, leaving fewer crews with a wider area to cover.