Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

For over a year we have been reporting about the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) Healthy Waters Initiative robust research on Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. In 2020, with generous community support (including a $10,000 donation from MLSA and more from many of you!), SAFL researchers used specialized sensors to characterize the surface waves of various recreational boats operating on a Minnesota lake. Their field studies in 2021 provided scientific data to confirm what so many riparians were observing about the impact of boats operating in wake-boat mode.

Concerned riparians and lake focused organizations in a few other states attempted to use that data to bring about responsible legislation that would minimize the impact of the large and intense waves generated. For a variety of reasons, most efforts have not yet achieved their objectives. On the other hand, as reported in MLSA newsletters, we have cautioned that wave attenuation is only one part of the issues by wake mode operations. We have pointed out other concerns such as:

  • In what depth of water is it ok to operate in wake-boat mode;
  • how much acreage on the water is needed to create a safe wake-boat mode “operating area”; and
  • what special aquatic invasive species (AIS) control methods might be required for wake-boats being transported between waterbodies?

At MLSA’s 61st Annual Conference in May of this year, we featured a presentation about the Phase I (2021) Research from the St. Anthony Fall Laboratory (SAFL). Their presentation was the favorite session indicated by our conference participants. The researchers from SAFL also announced their next initiative to obtain data about the “prop-wash” impact of wake-boat mode operations. They shared video of a test tank in their lab with a scale model boat and propeller operating with the angle and intensity of wake-boat mode operations. They even used dye in the water to help visualize the prop-wash direction downward and the bottomland impacts. Of course, such modeling can only be proven with real boat operations on a lake. That is why SAFL is seeking to pursue Phase II of their research.

As reported in our June newsletter, the Board of Directors of MLSA has enthusiastically and unanimously voted to support this next phase of research focusing on propeller wash by SAFL with another $10,000 contribution. Our donation has helped to get the campaign started but they are looking for further funding. Please check out the campaign website and consider an additional donation on behalf of your association and your favorite waterbody.  It is through this type of research that the full impact can be determined so that “comprehensive” responsible legislation can be pursued in a non knee-jerk manner.

Your membership and support of Michigan Lakes and Streams Association helps us to contribute to this important research. Thank you!

How Do I Get a Boat Wash?
What can Army Corps of Engineers do for you?