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WAKE BOATS

*CURRENT UPDATES*

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress & Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources(WDNR) are requesting public comment to gauge the community's opinion regarding three proposed resolutions that would limit and restrict wake boating throughout the state. Provide input online from Wednesday, April 10 through Saturday, April 13.

 

Learn more about the proposed resolutions and access the online survey here.

WAKE BOATS IN GREEN LAKE

A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota highlights how wake surfing can resuspend bottom lake sediment, erode shorelines, and potentially transport aquatic invasive species.

 

As a science-based organization with priorities to reduce Green Lake’s phosphorus and prevent additional aquatic invasive species, we support guidelines around wake surfing in Green Lake that promote protecting its water quality. 

This includes limiting wake surfing to areas of the lake that are deep enough and far enough away from shore to minimize shoreline erosion and lake-bottom sediment disruption. 

Green Lake Enhanced Wake Area.png

The green line in this map represents Green Lake County's recommended area to limit wake enhancing features on Green Lake. This area, which aims to leave a shoreline buffer of 700 feet and keep wake surfers to 40-foot depth water, leaves 60% of Green Lake available for use.

Location
COMMON QUESTIONS

What is a wake boat?

Wake boats are equipped with wake enhancement features that produce large wakes for surfing and wakeboarding. This includes add-on features such as hydrofoils and wake shapers that help users generate larger, artificial wakes. 

Why do people care where I wakeboard or surf?

It recently came to our attention that the waves generated by wake boats can actually harm a lake’s water quality through shoreline erosion, lake-bottom sediment disruption and transfer aquatic invasive species (AIS).  

Concerns over wake boat use relates to its “operational” state when the wake enhancing features are in use to create larger wakes for the purposes of wakeboarding or surfing. 

 

Our concerns related to water quality include: 

  1. The creation of these wakes can disturb sediment 20 feet below the surface, disrupting aquatic plant beds and stirring up phosphorus.  

  2. The high-energy wakes produced during surfing and wakeboarding require a greater distance to shore for reducing wave height and energy compared to non-wakesurf boats--research from the University of Minnesota indicates 500 feet. Therefore, operation within 500 feet can contribute to shoreline erosion. 

  3. Wake boats are equipped with ballast tanks, holding between 200-600 gallons of water on average, allowing the boat to sit lower in the water. These tanks cannot be fully drained and increase the risk of introducing new AIS. Best practice is to dry your ballast tanks out for at least 5 days before entering Green Lake.

 

We are not looking to ban wake boats, just designate the best spots for wakeboarding or surfing on the lake to protect the future of our lake’s water quality. 

What are state and local governments doing?

There are conversations happening throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan around limiting wake boat use to protect our lakes, including the introduction of several legislative bills. 

 

Green Lake County is seeking a Wake Boat Advisory that provides recommendations for and promotes responsible wake boat use on Green Lake. This includes areas of the lake that are deep enough and far enough away from shore to minimize shoreline erosion and lake-bottom sediment disruption. 

What is the wake boat industry doing?

Currently, the ballast system on wake boats is not designed to be fully drained, leaving five gallons of water on average in the tanks. This presents a threat of introducing new AIS to Green Lake when wake boats from other lakes visit Big Green without the ability to drain or fully decontaminate their boats. 

Organizations around the state are advocating that the industry design the ballast systems so they can be fully drained and to explore decontamination procedures that boaters can take to protect our lakes. We will support these efforts to work with the wake boat industry as these opportunities arise.

Why is the GLA supporting this?

As a science-based organization with a singular focus on protecting Green Lake’s water quality, our priority is to reduce Green Lake’s phosphorus and prevent the introduction of additional aquatic invasive species.

 

Therefore, we support guidelines around wakeboarding and surfing in Green Lake that promote protecting its water quality, such as restricting wake surfing to areas of the lake that are deep enough and far enough away from shore to minimize shoreline erosion and lake-bottom sediment disruption. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Citizen Resolution by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a public forum for WDNR input, it declares staying 400 feet from shore when wake surfing. 

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