ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With high water levels and increasing flows in the Rio Grande, city and state leaders are warning people about potentially dangerous conditions in the water through Albuquerque. City officials say the water in the river is roughly four times higher than it was at the same time last year.

Albuquerque and state officials held a joint news conference about the river’s flow Monday afternoon. As of Monday morning, the Rio Grande was moving at over 4,000 cubic feet per second. The City of Albuquerque oversees roughly 16 miles of the Rio Grande through town.

“A year ago, for example, we were at just about 1,000 cubic feet per second,” said Dennis Vasquez, Albuquerque Parks & Recreation’s Open Space Director. “We expect these conditions to last for several weeks.”

State officials are urging river users to wear a life jacket, carry a whistle and a paddle. State law requires people to carry and wear a life jacket “while engaged in boating on the river.” A boating safety specialist with New Mexico State Parks, Scott Chalmers emphasized checking the fit of life jackets to ensure that the jacket can’t be pulled off from over a person’s head.

“This spring, people who plan to float the Rio Grande must be especially aware of the added dangers,” Chalmers said. “The Rio Grande is running higher and faster than usual, more so than it has been in a very long time because of an abundance of snow melt.”

Water safety officials say there is a strong likelihood of more objects being hidden underneath the surface of the water. Over the past twelve months, seven people have died while boating in New Mexico, Chalmers says. That includes deaths in rivers, flat water and other waterways.

Of those, five people were paddling on non-motorized watercraft according to Chalmers. The most recent death was over the weekend along the Rio Grande in southern Taos County.

Eryc Benavides enjoys the views along the Rio Grande, he couldn’t believe how fast the water is flowing.

“People need to be aware that it’s always a danger when you have this high of water coming through,” said Benavides. “I think it’s great that the city is taking some measures and informing people of the dangers obviously the water is flowing very quickly now that we’re getting the rain… snowfall from Colorado.”

New Mexico State Parks is offering a free boating safety course throughout the state. Also, officials warn that the water temperature is much cooler because this is the snowpack melting and it could lead to hyperthermia.