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Thursday, 12 January 2017

Hidden dangers in our dynamic rivers

12 Jan 2017

North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and Life Saving Victoria are urging river users to take care and be aware of the hidden dangers in our beautiful and dynamic waterways.

Recreational river users must take care when enjoying time on and in natural waterways as these are uncontrolled environments which are not patrolled by lifesavers. Avoiding alcohol and never swimming alone are a great starting point to ensuring personal safety in the water, however it's important to be aware that inland waterways contain hidden dangers.

Tony Long, Acting Executive Manager NRM Delivery, wants locals and visitors to be particularly cautious of snags in the river.

"Snags in our waterways play an important role in providing habitat for fish and controlling flow or turbidity which, in turn, maintains bank stability," said Mr Long, "Protecting biodiversity and the natural processes of our rivers is important, however these snags can be dangerous for recreational river users."

"Being aware of these hazards and following safety advice from groups such as Life Saving Victoria, will keep recreational river users safer in our local waterways," said Mr Long, "It's also important to never assume the location of a snag from last year, last week or even yesterday will remain in the same place. Our beautiful rivers are dynamic and with new trees and branches entering our waterways regularly snags and other hidden dangers will move and change. This is particularly relevant following the recent floods in North East Victoria."

Life Saving Victoria General Manager Paul Shannon says that inland waterways continue to be the leading location for drowning in Australia, so it is important to Respect the River by being aware and prepared for the conditions.

"More than 20 per cent of drowning deaths in Australia in 2015/16 occurred in inland waterways, including rivers, creeks and streams," he said.

"Many of the dangers of inland waterways, including rivers and lakes aren't obvious from the surface. These can include submerged objects, debris and snags, as well as deceptively strong currents, and drop offs.

"We urge people take the time to understand the conditions before starting their water activities, by reading the safety signs and speaking to local authorities, including local lifeguards or park rangers, about the current conditions.

"When boating or kayaking, you should always wear a lifejacket and always undertake water activities with a friend, so you can look out for each other in the water."

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