DES MOINES — Memorial Day weekend is often considered the opening of boating season in Iowa. Susan Stocker, boating law administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, warns boaters that dehydration accelerates intoxication.

“The sun, the glare, the waves and all of that, so having one alcoholic beverage could have an effect that’s twice or three times the effect if you were just in your backyard,” Stocker says. “That’s what people don’t seem to understand and we want to get that point across.”

There are more than 231,000 registered boats in Iowa and Stocker says in addition to lakes, there’s plenty of space on rivers for canoes, kayaks and boats.

“Iowa, what I think people don’t realize, is that we do have so much water,” Stocker says. “We have about 19,000 miles of rivers and streams.”

Given this spring’s flooding, though, Stocker urges boaters to check water levels and, if you do venture out, be wary of what’s under the water.

“If you think of a 30-40 foot tree that is now floating down the Missouri River, you’re not going to see the entire tree. Part of it, the majority of it is going to be underwater so you need to make sure you slow down,” Stocker says. “Don’t exceed very fast speed for the conditions and watch for the floating debris.”

Stocker spent part of her Memorial Day weekend conducting boating safety classes at the Prairie Rose State Park near Harlan.