It’s good that government officials on both sides of the San Luis Pass are stepping up efforts to keep people from killing themselves by entering the treacherous waters that flow there, connecting West Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
At the same time, it’s bewildering that the government would have to invest so much time and effort attempting to convince people to act in what’s clearly their own best interest.
Four drownings this summer at the pass have prompted officials on both sides of the channel to increase efforts to stop people from swimming or wade fishing there.
Last week, local and county officials renewed calls for safety as they work to reinforce precautionary measures at the pass, which is known as one of the most hazardous fishing and swimming spots on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Two people drowned Monday near the Brazoria County side of the pass, and the Brazoria County Commissioners Court on Tuesday made it illegal for people to enter the water there.
The city of Galveston already prohibits that activity on its side between marked signage points.
The pass has always been known as a dangerous spot for fishing and swimming. Strong currents move through the channel between the island and a slender peninsula jutting from the mainland. The currents can change direction quickly, depending on the tide, and the moving water can also create steep drop-offs in the pass, which can be treacherous for people who are wading.
This year, three of the four drownings were in Brazoria County.
The last time there were so many drownings at the pass was 2013.
Four drownings occurred that year between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, prompting the city of Galveston to post warning signs on the beaches near the water, and for the Galveston Island Beach Patrol to station a lifeguard in the area on weekends.
Galveston Island Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis told a Daily News reporter Friday he’d spoken to officials in Brazoria County about putting up a flag warning system on their side of the channel and starting some sort of patrol there.
Sharon Trower, spokeswoman for the Brazoria County judge, couldn’t confirm that those efforts were underway, but said the county is committed to informing residents and visitors about the dangers of the pass.
Streamlining safety efforts between the county and the beach patrol would make safety enforcement in the area a little easier, Davis said.
The recent efforts are good, but there’s an inescapable core fact in all this: There’s only so much the government can, and maybe even ought, to do in attempt to save people from their own bad decisions.
About all the government can be expected to do in situations like this one is to make a good-faith effort to inform people about the dangers.
• Michael A. Smith