With more boat traffic along the Columbia River during the summer, Richland wants to keep swimmers out of harm's way by making it a crime to jump from public docks.
Swimming within 100 feet of boat docks already is banned in Richland, but jumping from docks into the river is not outlawed.
This week, the council voted unanimously to make dock jumping a gross misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. It was the first reading of the proposed law.
A second and final vote on the ordinance is expected Aug. 19.
If passed, it should go into effect seven to 10 days after the vote, said Parks and Public Facilities Director Joe Schiessl.
He was unaware of any incidents involving boats hitting swimmers, but he said the proposed ordinance is designed to lessen the chance of an accident.
"As the weather heats up, we do see an increase in swimming around our boat docks," Schiessl said, adding that warmer weather also often translates into more boats being in the water.
"The gross misdemeanor category does point to the fact that we take this very seriously," he said.
The docks at Howard Amon Park have been particularly popular in the past with people wanting to cool off.
-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org