Michigan Lake and Stream Associations has received numerous phone calls and e-mails in the past two summers from lakefront property owners expressing concern about the collateral damage often rendered to docks, boats and soft shorelines from the increasing number of wake boats operating on Michigan’s inland lakes.  Wakeboarding has increased  in popularity in recent years and with it has come a boom in sales of wake boats designed to create large, high energy waves.  Most modern wakeboarding boats are designed with variable ballast systems which allows the user to pump water into and out of ballast tanks from the surrounding water.  Increasing the volume of ballast water increases the boat’s displacement which consequently enlarges the wake produced. The potential for damage to docks and moored boats as well as the probability of  shoreline erosion increases with the wake boat displacement, hull size, weight, and speed. Ballast laden wake boats operating at high speeds near inland lake shorelines are capable of producing wave heights and frequencies that may exceed  those produced during the most intense summer thunderstorms and/or high winds.   The increasing negative impact of wake boats on inland lake fish and wildlife habitat, water  quality and on personal shoreline property strongly suggests that the operation of these boats  on Michigan inland waters may require increased state regulation in the near future. In the interim, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations recommends the following operating guidelines which are intended to help minimize the ecological and environmental impacts of wake boats. Wake boat operators  should be advised to:

1.   Reduce their speed within 500 feet of shore;

2.  Not add ballast water or other extra weight to their boats;

3.  Not operate their boats near sandy areas,  wetlands or lakefront residences;

4.  Avoid turning their boats in tight circles (tight circles increase wave height
and frequency);

5.  Avoid operating their wake boats in shallow water or near natural shorelines

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