I appreciate Jeremy Wiczek’s perspective on the importance of educating boaters on safety and best practices.
Anyone enjoying other water sports on Minnesota lakes can speak to the many adverse experiences related to personal safety and property damage caused by the large wakes from wake surfers.
Watercraft get bounced around often taking on water from the large waves which threatens the safety of boating recreationists. Wave damage to docks and boats tied to docks is well documented. Wake boat waves 3-4 feet high may dissipate faster to start with, but are still much higher than a normal boat wave at any distance.
The larger wake boat surfing waves proceed much farther onto the shoreline washing sediment that carries phosphorus out into the lake. Turbulence produced by larger than normal waves disturbs and mixes up the lake bottom sediments from deeper water.
Both sediment disturbances result in more algae leading to less water clarity. More recent research recommends wake boats operate 1,000 feet from shore in water greater than 16-feet deep to significantly reduce shoreline damage and minimize lake bottom disturbances.
Minnesota legislative House bill HF 1606 and Senate bill SF1639, put forth by the boating industry lobbyists, attempted to established a 200-foot from shore “no wake zone” for wake surf boats. The state Legislature did not act on the bills and for good reason. The 200-foot setback originated from a study commissioned by the boating industry, which was not peer reviewed by other scientists in the field.
Fortunately, a comprehensive, peer reviewed study was conducted by the University of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Falls laboratory. Results from this study are forthcoming and state legislators have indicated the need to review these results before proposing any legislation.
Education by itself is not working and large waves created by wake surf boats are threatening the enjoyment of all other types of water recreation sports.