New Safety Rules in Place at Coralville Lake

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

The longstanding �no alcohol� policy that has existed at the West Overlook Day Use beach has been expanded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to now include all areas of the beach, all parking lots, the volleyball court and picnic areas. �We realize this may be an inconvenience for some current park users, but feel it will make the area safer and more family oriented,� according to the corps� news release. Photo taken Friday, May 3, 2013. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa - Authorities at Coralville Lake are addressing some safety concerns with beach season just around the corner, including expanding its “no alcohol” policy and its idle speed zones.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the changes Friday in hopes of providing a “safer park experience for the visiting public.” The new rules at the lake, located in Iowa City at 2850 Prairie Du Chien Road NE, are effective immediately.

That means, from now on, alcohol will be banned from all areas of the beach, all parking lots, the volleyball court and picnic areas, according to the corps. This expands the longstanding “no alcohol” policy that has existed at the West Overlook Day Use beach.

“We realize this may be an inconvenience for some current park users, but feel it will make the area safer and more family oriented,” according to the corps’ news release.

For boats and other vessels on the lake, the corps has expanded its two idle speed zones – which limit motorists to 5 mph. The zone at the Mehaffey bridge and boat ramp will be expanded to accommodate construction of the new bridge project.

“This already congested area will become more difficult to maneuver through due to water-based work barges reducing the size of the waterway under the bridge,” according to the news release.

The new idle speed zone in that area will begin just south of the Mehaffey boat ramp at the buoy line, and it will continue north of the bridge to another buoy line.

The second expanded speed zone is being enforced from the West Overlook Day Use ramp and dam area to the cove entrance to Coralville Lake Marina and beyond the swimming beach. This area has been expanded to better protect bank fisherman and beach-goers.

The expanded idle speed zones will be marked with “Slow 5 mph” buoys. Boats are not allowed within buoy lines around the intake structure or the beach area, according to the corps.

Historically, the corps has increased patrols at Coralville Lake around busier weekends – like the upcoming Memorial Day weekend — to increase safety. State law also was recently changed, lowering the legal blood alcohol limit to operate a boat from .10 to .08.

“We take public safety seriously and strive to provide a safe and healthful recreation experience at all of our parks,” according to the corps’ news release.

Coralville Lake offers more than 5,000 acres of water for boating and water skiing – there are ramps for both registered campers and non-campers. The corps charges a $3 launch fee for non-campers or an annual pass for $30, which is valid for 12 months.

There are three swimming beaches, one of which – the Sugar Bottom Day Use beach – is free. The other two – Sandy Beach Day Use and West Overlook Day Use – charge $1 per person for those 12 years and older or up to $4 a car.

An annual pass also is available for $30.

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