Is the Chattahoochee River safe? - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Is the Chattahoochee River safe?

COLUMBUS, GA -

Whitewater rafting is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to our community and pump tens of millions of dollars into the Chattahoochee Valley, but the number that most people are paying attention to right now is five.

That is how many people have died after apparent drownings in the Chattahoochee River in one month.

Unless you are whitewater rafting, there are plenty of warnings about swimming or boating in the Chattahoochee including from Fire Marshal Chief Ricky Shores.

"Exercise due diligence. Make sure you have a personal floatation device on and stay away from areas where you can see the waters are quite turbulent," said Shores.

Officials say the latest tragedies are not connected to the whitewater rafting project, and they are doing all they can to keep rafters safe.

"It's things like making sure that you have all your equipment on, making sure that you know how to get back to the boat if you get thrown out of it with the assistance from the guide," said Richard Bishop with Uptown Columbus.

Bishop says guides will give these lessons before hitting the water. Rafters will be required to wear helmets and lifevests.

"We will have an alarm that will be in place as we finish the project. And, all that is to alert people that Georgia Power is releasing water and the river will be rising," said Bishop.

Shores says rescue divers are also taking precautions and are scheduled to start swift-water training next week.

"Different rescue techniques that they would have to perform in order to rescue someone who may have fallen into the water that's moving significantly faster than it has in the past," said Shores.

The whitewater rafting project is set to be to be complete fall of 2013.

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