Press Releases

USACE Mobile District Water Safety Program

USACE, Mobile District
Published July 13, 2022

MOBILE, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Mobile District has been experiencing the highest visitation to its recreational parks since 2016, averaging 15% higher than the standard year. Sadly, the district is also experiencing a record number of fatal accidents and incidents simultaneously.

Currently, there have been 21 public drownings this year in the Mobile District’s waterways and recreation sites. To better help put this into perspective, there were 13 deaths in all 2021.

“We’ve had 21 fatalities in the Mobile District this year,” said Chris Purvis, lead ranger at Lake Allatoona. “That is 21 families that came to the lake to have a good time and left without a family member or friend.”

The average age of the deceased was 35 years old. All but one of the fatalities were male. The activities in each tragedy were fishing, swimming, and boating. Other districts have reported similar circumstances, with upwards of 90% or more of the victims being adult males. 

Several safety measures could have prevented these deaths during each activity. Undoubtedly, if they had, some of these people may still be alive. Properly using life jackets, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and awareness of water levels and weather conditions are all things that, if employed into the regular water day routine, can and do save lives.

“We want to make sure you and your family go home safe at the end of the day,” said Chris Arthur, USACE recreation program manager at Lake Lanier. “Wear a life jacket, don’t dive into unknown waters, and if boating, be responsible.”

In response to this significant increase in the loss of life on the Corps-owned property, the district is implementing a unified water safety campaign to educate and remind lake patrons to partake and incorporate measures into their routine that may save lives.

  • Wear properly fitted lifejacket
  • Swim in designated swimming areas ONLY
  • Boat Sober: alcohol & boaters hypnosis effects coordination, judgement & reaction time

Unfortunately, it’s a myth that drowning victims splash and shout for help. In reality the signs of someone struggling in the water are head back, mouth open, no sound, & arms slapping water. If you see someone in distress follow these guidelines: Reach, Throw, Row but Don’t Go.

To promote water safety at its lakes, the Corps’ Life Jacket Loaner Program is available at most of its recreation areas. This program offers a free life jacket for visitors to use while recreating at the lake. Check with the visitor’s center or look for the life jacket loaner displays on Corps’ swimming beaches. Gifts and awards are also given to people caught wearing their life jackets properly. 

“It is heartbreaking that there are 21 people that will never again enjoy fishing, boating, and swimming, or anything else,” said Tim Rainey, Lake Lanier project manager. “We’re doing our best to help; however, we need the public to understand that this is a serious community issue.”

For any further inquiries, please contact USACE Mobile District Public Affairs Office at (251) 690-2505 or




With an area of operation across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and northern Florida, and a vast military region that includes operations across Central and South America, the Mobile District’s award- winning teams of engineering, construction, regulatory and emergency management professionals are nationally recognized for their leadership in delivery of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works and military programs missions to the Nation.






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Public Affairs
(251) 690-2505

Release no. 22-021