Havasu Parks panel abandons lifeguard decision

November 28, 2018

Lifeguards will not be on city beaches anytime soon, at least not with the Lake Havasu City Parks and Recreation Advisory Board’s recommendation.

The advisory board decided during their Monday meeting to no longer discuss the possibility of adding lifeguards to city beaches in future meetings.

Advisory board member Mark Zieff brought up the topic for discussion, thinking the city could add lifeguards to designated swim areas at Rotary Park Beach and London Bridge Beach similar to how lifeguards are employed at the Aquatic Center.

Michael D. Keane, parks and recreation director, said he talked to city officials and learned of liability requirements the city would have to take on if it were to add lifeguards to swim beaches.

“It is definitely not as simple as just adding a rotation to go down there,” he said. “There is a complete different open-water certification that all of our staff that worked on the open water would have to obtain. The liability is huge.”

Keane said adding lifeguards would change the liability of all city beaches, not just the ones with lifeguards. City officials would also have to coordinate adding lifeguards with other agencies, as the water is not in city jurisdiction with the exception of police monitoring, he said. The lake is on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, which is federal land.

Chuck Vaughn, board member, asked whether there were signs asking people to keep an eye on children in the swim areas. Keane said the city has signs telling people there is no lifeguard and they should swim at their own risk.

Ashley Pascual, board member, said the city could maybe work with the hospitality industry to start an educational campaign letting residents and visitors know there are no lifeguards and teaching them how to prevent drownings.

Pascual also asked whether the city had first responders patrolling in the water. The Mohave County first responders mostly patrol the water and provide search and rescue, though the city’s fire department does have a rescue boat, Keane said

The board should no longer pursue the issue, said board member Scott Welte. Though there was no vote on the discussion, most members seemed to agree with Welte.

“I think my thought is that it’s above our paygrade to deal with something like this,” Welte said, as the board is made up of volunteers.

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